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Vol. I Anderson, P. L.: 


Vol. II Anderson, P. L.: 


Vol. Ill Anderson, P. L.: 


Vol. IV Anderson, P. L.: 


Vol. V Anderson, P. L.: 


Vol. VI Church, A. J.: 


Vol. VII Davis, W. S.: 

A DAY IN OLD ROME c. h. 3.95 

Vol. VIII Wells, R. F.: 


Vol. IX Church, A. J.: 


Vol. X Lamprey, L.: 


Vol. XI Wells, R. F.- 


Vol. XII Donauer, F.: 


Vol. XIII Judson, H. P.: 

CAESAR'S ARMY c. h. 3.95 

Vol. XIV Lamprey, L: 


Vol. XV Whitehead, A. C.: 


Vol. XVI Abbott, Frank F : 



Vol. XVII Abbott, Frank F.: 


Vol. XVIII Petersson, Torsten: 



Vol I Davis, W. S.: 

A DAY IN OLD ATHENS c. h. 3.50 

Vol. II Mayer, A. L, Jr.: 

OLYMPIAD h., 3.50 

Vol. Ill Smyth, Herbert W,: 


c. - college h. - high school c. h, - college & high, school 


Restoration according to Von Falke. 






New York 




63 Fourth Avenue New York 3, N. Y. 

Fourth Printing 1963 
Library of Congress Card #61-24993 

Printed in the U.S.A. 



THIS book tries to describe what an intelligent person 
would have witnessed in Ancient Rome if by some leger- 
demain he had been translated to the Second Christian 
Century, and conducted about the imperial city under 
competent guidance. Rare and untypical happenings have 
been omitted, and sometimes to avoid long explanations 
probable matters have been stated as if they were ascer- 
tained facts : but these instances it is hoped are so few 
that no reader can be led into serious error. 

The year 134 after Christ has been chosen as the hypo- 
thetical time of this visit, not from any special virtue in 
that date, but because Rome was then architecturally 
nearly completed, the Empire seemed in its most prosper- 
ous state, although many of the old usages and traditions 
of the Republic still survived, and the evil days of 
decadence were as yet hardly visible in the background. 
The time of the absence of Hadrian from his capital was 
selected particularly, in order that interest could be con- 
centrated upon the life and doings of the great city itself, 
and upon its vast populace of slaves, plebeians, and nobles, 
not upon the splendid despot and his court, matters too 
often the center for attention by students of the Roman 

To acknowledge all the modern books upon which the 
writer has drawn heavily would be to present a list of 
almost all the important handbooks or discussions of 
Roman life and antiquities. It is proper to say, however, 


iv Preface 

that such secondary sources have been mainly useful so 
far as they reenforced a fairly exhaustive study of the 
Latin writers themselves, especially of Horace,, Seneca, 
Petronius, Juvenal, Martial, and, last but nowise least, 
of Pliny the Younger, Inevitably this volume follows the 
lines of its companion "A Day in Old Athens, " published 
several years ago, a book which has enjoyed such public 
favor as to prove the usefulness of this method of presen- 
tation ; but life in the Roman Imperial Age has seemed so 
much more complex than that in the Athens of Demos- 
thenes, and our fund of information is so much greater, 
that the present volume is perforce considerably longer 
than its companion. The "day" devoted to Rome will 
probably seem therefore a somewhat lengthy one. 

To my colleague and friend Dr, Richard C. Cram, Pro- 
fessor of Latin in the University of Minnesota, I am deeply 
grateful for a careful reading of the manuscript and for 
many helpful and incisive suggestions ; and for a careful 
checking over of every feature of the work I must once 
again gladly acknowledge the gracious and untiring serv- 
ices of my wife. 

The illustrations, which, it is hoped, add considerably 
to the interest of the book, have been collected from many 
sources. Many of the highly informational "resto- 
rations" included are from the monumental work of Jakob 
von Falke, Hellas und Rom, the English version whereof 
has long ceased to be available to American readers. 

W. S. D. 





Chapter I. The General Aspect of the City 


1. The Prosperity of Rome in the Reign of Hadrian 

(A.D. 117-138) 1 

2. Increasing Glory of the Imperial City .... 2 

3. Population and Crowded Condition of Rome ... 3 

4. The Country around Rome 5 

5. The Tiber and Its Valley 6 

6. A View over Rome from the Campus Martius ... 7 

7. The Seven Hills of Rome 9 

8. Building Materials Used in Rome 10 

9. The Great Use of Concrete 11 

10. Greek Architectural Forms Plus the Arch and Vault . 12 

Chapter H Streets and Street Life 

11. The Regions of Rome: Fashionable and Plebeian 

Quarters 15 

12. A Typical Short Street, "Mercury Street" ... 16 

13. The House and Shop Fronts 18 

14. Street Shrines and Fountains 20 

15. Typical Street Crowds 21 

16. Frequent Use of Greek in Rome 22 

17. Clamor and Thronging in the Streets .... 23 

18. The Processions Attending Great Nobles .... 24 

19. A Great Lady Traveling 25 

20. Public Salutations : the Kissing Habit .... 26 

21. The Swarms of Idlers and Parasites 27 

22. Public Placards and Notices 28 

23. Wall Scribblings 30 

24. The Streets Dark and Dangerous at Night ... 32 

25. Discomforts of Life in Rome 33 


vi Contents 

Chapter HI. The Homes of the Lowly and of the 


26. The Great Insulx Tenement Blocks .... 34 

27. A Typical Insula 35 

28. The Flats in an Insula 36 

29. The Cheap Attic Tenements and Their Poor Occupants . 37 

30. A Senatorial "Mansion" (Domus) 39 

31. The Plan of a Large Residence 40 

32. Entrance to the Residence 42 

33. The Atrium and the View across It 42 

34. The Rooms in the Rear and the Peristylium ... 44 

35. The Dining Room (Triclinium) and the Chapel . . 45 

36. The Garden and the Slaves' Quarters .... 47 

37. The Floors and Windows 49 

38. Frescos, Beautiful and Innumerable 50 

39. The Profusion of Statues and Art Objects . . .51 

40. Family Portrait Busts 52 

41. Death Masks (Imagines) 54 

42. Couches, Their General Use 54 

43. Elegant Chairs and Costly Tables 55 

44. Chests, Cabinets, Water Clocks, and Curios ... 57 

45. Spurious Antiques 58 

46. Pet Animals 58 

Chapter IV. Roman Women and Roman Marriages 

47. Honorable Status of Roman Women .... 60 

48. Men Reluctant to Marry 61 

49. Rights and Privileges of Married Women ... 61 

50. Selection of Husbands for Young Girls .... 63 

51. A Marriage Treaty among Noble-Folk .... 64 

52. A Betrothal in Wealthy Circles 65 

53. Adjusting the Dowry 66 

54. Dressing the Bride 66 

55. The Marriage Ceremonies .67 

56. The Wedding Procession 69 

57. At the Bridegroom's House 70 

58. Honors and Liberties of a Matron 71 

59. Unhappy Marriages and Frivolous Women ... 72 

60. Divorces, Easy and Frequent 74 

Contents vii 


61. Celibacy Common : Old Families Dying Out ... 75 

62. Nobler Types of Women 75 

63. Famous and Devoted Wives 76 

64. The Story of Turia 78 

Chapter V. Costume and Personal Adornment 

65. The Type of Roman Garments 80 

66. The Toga, the National Latin Garment .... 81 

67. Varieties of Togas 83 

68. Draping the Toga 83 

69. The Tunica 84 

70. Capes, Cloaks, and Gala Garments 85 

71. Garments of Women : the Stola and the Palla ... 86 

72. Materials for Garments. Wool and Silk .... 88 

73. Styles of Arranging Garments. Fullers and Cleaners . 89 

74. Barbers' Shops. The Revived Wearing of Beards . . 90 

75. Fashions in Women's Hairdressing. Hair Ornaments . 93 

76. Elaborate Toilets 94 

77. Sandals and Shoes 95 

78. The Mania for Jewels and Rings 96 

79. Pearls in Enormous Favor 97 

80. Perfumes: Their Constant Use 98 

Chapter VI. Food and Drink. How the Day is 
Spent. The Dinner 

81. Romans Fond of the Table. Gourmandizing. The 

Famous Apicius 100 

82. Vitellius, the Imperial Glutton 102 

83. Simple Diet of the Early Romans 102 

84. Bread and Vegetables 103 

85. Fruits, Olives, Grapes, and Spices 104 

86. Meat and Poultry 105 

87. Fish in Great Demand 106 

88. Olive OH and Wine : Their Universal Use . . .107 

89. Vintages and Varieties of Wine 108 

90. Kitchens and the Niceties of Cookery .... 109 

91. A Roman Gentleman's Morning: Breakfast (jentaculwri) 

and the Visit to the Forum 110 

92. The Afternoon and Dinner-Time. Importance of the 

Dinner (cena) Ill 

viii Contents 

93. Dinner Hunters and Parasites (" Shadows") . . .112 

94. The Standard Dinner Party Nine Guests . . .113 

95. Preparing the Dinner and Mustering the Guests . .114 

96. Arrangement of the Couches : Placing the Guests . .115 

97. Serving the Dinner 116 

98. The Drinking Bout (Comissatio) after the Dinner . .118 

99. Distribution of Garlands and Perfumes. Social Con- 

versation 119 

100. Elaborate and Vulgar Banquets. Simple Home 

Dinners 120 

Chapter VII. The Social Orders: The Slaves 

101. Enormous Alien Population in Rome. The "Gra- 

cules" 122 

102. Strict Divisions of Society. The Regime of Status . 123 

103. Vast Number of Slaves. Universality of Slavery . . 124 

104. Power of Master over Slaves 125 

105. The City Slaves and the Country Slaves . . . 125 

106. Purchasing a Slave Boy 126 

107. Traffic in the Slave Pens 127 

108. Sale of Slaves 128 

109. Size of Slave Households (Families). Slave Workmen . 129 

110. Division of Duties and Organization of Slave House- 

holds 131 

111. Discipline in a Well-Ordered Mansion. Long Hours of 

Idleness 132 

112. Inevitable Degradation Caused by Slavery. Evil 

Effect upon Masters 133 

113. Punishment of Slaves 135 

114. Branding of Slaves. Ergastula Slave Prisons . . 136 

115. Death Penalties for Slaves. Pursuit of Runaways . 136 

Chapter VIII. The Social Orders : Freedmen, Provincials, 
Plebeians, and Nobles 

116. Manumission of Slaves Very Common .... 139 

117. The Ceremony of Manumission 140 

118. The Status of Freedmen. Their Great Success in 

Business 140 

Contents ix 


119. Humble Types of Freedmen 141 

120. Wealth and Power of Successful Freedmen . . .142 

121. Importance of Freedmen in a Roman Family . . 143 

122. The Status of Provincials. The Case of Jesus . . 143 

123. Great Alien Colonies in Rome 145 

124. The Roman Plebeians, the "Mob" (Vulgus) . . . 145 

125. The Desirability of Roman Citizenship. The Case 

of St. Paul 146 

126. Clientage: Its Oldest Form 147 

127. The New Parasitical Clientage: the Morning Sal- 

utation 148 

128. The Dole to Clients (the Sportula) 150 

129. Attendance by Clients in Public. Insults They Must 

Undergo 151 

130. The Dectirions: the Notables of the Chartered 

Cities 152 

131. The Equites : the Nobles of the Second Class . . 153 

132. Qualifications and Honors of the Equites . . . 154 

133. Review of the Equites. Pretenders to the Rank . .156 

134. The Senatorial Order. The First-Class Nobility . . 156 

135. Social Glories of Senators 157 

136. The Senatorial Aristocracy Greater than the Senate . 158 

137. Insignia, Qualifications, and Titles of Senators . . 158 

Chapter IX. Physicians and Funerals 

138. Scanty Qualifications and Training of Doctors . . 160 

139. Superior Class of Physicians 161 

140. A Fashionable Doctor 161 

141. Medical Books and Famous Remedies .... 163 

142. Absurd Medicines. Theriac 164 

143. Fear of Poisoning. Popularity of Antidotes . , . 165 

144. Medical Students, "Disciples," Beauty Specialists . . 166 

145. Cheap Doctors : No Hospitals 167 

146. Suicide as Escape from Hopeless Disease . . . 168 

147. Execution of Wills. Numerous Legacies Customary . 169 

148. Regular Incomes from Legacies. Professional Legacy 

Hunters 171 

149. Public Bequests 172 

150. Great Funerals Very Fashionable. Desire to Be 

Remembered after Death 172 



151. Preliminaries to a Funeral 173 

152. The Funeral Procession. The Display of Masked 

"Ancestors" 174 

153. The Exhibits in the Procession. The Retinue around 

the Bier 175 

154. The Funeral Oration in the Forum .... 176 

155. Family Tombs. The Columbarium and the Garden . 177 

156. The Funeral Pyre and Its Ceremonies . . . .180 

157. Funeral Monuments. Memorial Feasts to the Dead . 182 

158. Funerals of the Poor. "Funeral Societies" . . . 182 

Chapter X. Children and Schooling 

159. Theoretical Rights of Father over Children. The 

Patria Potestas 184 

160. Ceremonies after Birth of a Child. The Bulla . . 185 

161. The Roman Name : Its Intricacy .... 186 

162. Irregular and Lengthy Names under the Empire. 

Names of Slaves 187 

163. Names of Women. Confusion of Roman Names . . 188 

164. Care of Parents in Educating Children .... 189 

165. Toys and Pets 190 

166. The Learning of Greek by Roman Children . . .191 

167. Selection of a School 192 

168. Extent of Literacy in Rome. Education of Girls . . 193 

169. Schools for the Lower Classes 193 

170. Scourging, Clamors, and Other Abuses of Cheap 

Schools 195 

171. A Superior Type of School 196 

172. Methods of Teaching . 197 

173. Training in Higher Arithmetic 199 

174. The Grammarians' High Schools 199 

175. Oratory Very Fashionable 200 

176. Professional Rhetoricians 201 

177. Methods in Rhetoric Schools : Mock Trials . . .201 

178. Enormous Popularity of Rhetoric Studies . , . 203 

179. Philosophical Studies : Delight in Moralizing . . . 204 

180. Children's Games. "Morra" and Dice . . . .204 

181. Board Games of Skill: "Robbers" (Latruneuli) . . 205 

182. Out-Door Games. Ball Games, Trignon . .206 

Contents xi 

Chapter XI. Books and Libraries 


183. Letters and Writing Tablets 207 

184. Personal Correspondence and Secretaries . . .208 

185. Books Very Common : Papyrus and the Papyrus Trade 209 

186. Size and Format of Books 210 

187. Mounting and Rolling of Books 211 

188. Copying Books: the Publishing Business. Horace's 

and Martial's Publishers 212 

189. Passion for Literary "Fame" 214 

190. Zeal for Poetry : Multiplication of Verses . . .216 

191. Size of Libraries 217 

192. A Private Library 218 

193. The Great Public Libraries of Rome . . . .219 

Chapter XII. Economic Life of Rome : I. Banking, 
Shops, and Inns 

194. Passion for Gain in Rome 220 

195. Life in Rome Expensive. Premiums upon Extravagance 

and Pretence 221 

196. Rome a City of Investors and Buyers of Luxuries . . 222 

197. Multiplicity of Shops. The Great Shopping Districts . 223 

198. Arrangement of Shops. Streets Blocked by Hucksters . 224 

199. Barbers' Shops and Auction Sales 225 

200. Superior Retail Stores 226 

201. Numerous Banks and Bankers 227 

202. A Great Banker and His Business 228 

203. Trust Business : Savings Banks 229 

204. Places of Safe Deposit : The Temple of Vesta . . 230 

205. Inns : Usually Mean and Sordid 231 

206. Reckonings and Guests at a Cheap Inn .... 233 

207. Noble Frequenters of Taverns 234 

208. Respectable Eating-Houses 235 

209. Thermopolia "Hot Drink Establishments" . . 236 

Chapter XIII. Economic Life of Rome : n. The 

Industrial Quarters. The Grain Trade. Ostia. 

The Trade Guilds 

210. Industrial Quarters by the Tiber 238 

211. Conditions of Industrial Labor 238 

xii Contents 


212. Great Trade through Ostia and the Campanian Ports . 239 

213. The Emporium and Its Wharves : The Tiber Barges . 240 

214. The Marble and Grain Trades 241 

215. The Public Grain Doles 242 

216. Distribution of Free Bread: Extraordinary Bonuses 

(Congiaria and Donativa) 244 

217. The Trade in Sculptures and Portrait Statues . . 246 

218. The Tiber Trip to Ostia : The Merchant Shipping . . 247 

219. Imperial Naval Vessels 248 

220. The Harbor Town of Ostia 249 

221. The Roman Guilds (Collegia) 249 

222. Very Ancient Guilds. The Flute-Blowers . . .250 

223. Importance of the Guilds 251 

224. Multitude of Beggars 252 

Chapter XIV, The Fora, Their Life and Buildings. 
The Daily Journal 

225. The Fora, the Centers of Roman Life .... 254 

226. Incessant Crowds at the Forum. The Centers of 

Gossip 256 

227. Grandiose Architecture : Vast Quantities of Ornaments 

and Statues 258 

228. Use of Color on Sculptures and Architecture . . . 259 

229. Entering the Series of Fora : the Temple of Venus and 

Rome 260 

230. The Arch of Titus : Continuation of the Sacred Way . 262 

231. House and Temple of Vesta; the Regia: the Temple 

of the Divine Julius 265 

232. The Old Forum (Forum Romanum) .... 265 

233. The Forum Area : the Posting of Public Notices . . 268 

234. Western End of Forum: Rostra: the. Golden Mile- 

stone : the Tullianum Prison 269 

235. The Basilica ^Emilia : the Temple of Janus : the Senate 

House (Curia) 271 

236. The Basilica Julia, the Greatest Court House in Rome ; 

the Locus Curtius 272 

237. The New Fora of the Emperors : the Temple of Peace . 275 

238. The Fora of Julius, Augustus, and Nerva . . . 276 

239. The Forum, Column, and Libraries of Trajan . . 278 

Contents xiii 


240. The Park System of the Campus Martius: the 

Pantheon 280 

241. The Daily Gazette (Acta Diurna). How Rome Gets 

Its News 282 

242. Contents of the Acta Diurna 283 

243. Miscellaneous Entries and Gossip in the "Gazette" . 284 

Chapter XV. The Palatine and the Palace of the 

Caesars. The Government Offices, and the Police 

and City Government of Rome 

244. History of the Palatine : Its Purchase by Augustus 286 

245. Extension of the Imperial Buildings : Central Position of 

the Palatine 287 

246. Commanding View from the Palatine Hill . . . 288 

247. Magnificence of the Palatine Structures .... 288 

248. The More Famous Buildings on the Palatine : Enormous 

Display of Art Objects 290 

249. The Triclinium and Throne Room of Domitian . . 291 

250. Swarms of Civil Officials Always on the Palatine . . 293 

251. The Emperor Center of High Social Life . . .294 

252. Friends of Caesar (Amid C&saris) 295 

253. The Imperial Audiences 296 

254. Social Ruin through Imperial Disfavor .... 296 

255. Enormous Value of Imperial Favor .... 298 

256. City Government of Rome : the "CityPrsefect" (Prcsfec- 

tus Urbi) 299 

257. The Municipal Superintendents and Commissioners 

(Curatores) 301 

258. Excellent Water Supply of Rome 301 

259. The Great Aqueducts 303 

260. The Police System Instituted by Augustus . . .304 

261. The Police-Firemen of the Watch (Vigttes). The 

Proefectus Vigilum 304 

Chapter XVI. The Praetorian Camp. The Imperial 
War Machine 

262. The Army the Real Master of the Roman Empire . . 307 

263. Army Held under Stiff Discipline and Concentrated 

on Frontiers 308 

xiv Contents 


264. The Praetorian Guard of the Emperors . . . .309 

265. The Praetorian Praefect and the Praetorian Camp . .311 

266. Organization and Discipline of the Praetorians . . 312 

267. The City Cohorts (Cohartes Urbance) . . . .313 

268. A Private in the Legions. The Legionary Organ- 

ization 314 

269. Training of the Legionaries : the Pttum and the 

Gladius 316 

270. Defensive Weapons 318 

271. Rewards and Punishment? for Soldiers . . . .319 

272. Pay and Rations in the Army: Soldiers' Savings 

Banks 320 

273. The Training of Soldiers : Non-Military Labors . . 321 

274. Petty Officers in the Legions 322 

275. The Centurions: Their Importance and Order of 

Promotion 323 

276. The Primipilus : the Great Eagle of the Legion . . 325 

277. Locations and Names of Legions 326 

278. The Auxiliary Cohorts : the Second Grand Division of the 

Army . 327 

279. The Praefect of the Camps and the Legate of the 

Legion 328 

280. Care for Veterans : Retiring Bonuses and Land 

Grants 329 

281. Barrier Fortresses ; System of Encampments ; Flexible 

Battle Tactics ; Siege Warfare 330 

282. Limited Size of the Imperial Army : Its Great 

Efficiency 331 

Chapter XVII. The Senate: A Session and a 

283. Apparent Authority and Importance of the Senate . 334 

284. Actual Weakness of the Senate 335 

285. Amount of Power Left to the Senate .... 336 

286. Organization and Procedure of the Senate . . . 337 

287. The Curia (Senate House) and Its Arrangement of 

Benches 338 

288. The Gathering of the Senators 339 

289. Opening the Session : Taking the Auspices . . .340 

Contents xv 

290. Presentation of Routine Business: Taking a Formal 

Vote 341 

291. Presenting an Impeachment at a Senate Trial . . 342 

292. The Water Clocks ; Method of a Prosecutor ; Applause 

in the Senate . 344 

293. Speech for the Defendant : Methods of a Professional 

Advocate 345 

294. Concluding Speeches; Interrupting Shouts; Personal 

Invectives 347 

295. Taking the Opinion of the Senate 348 

296. An Uproar in the Senate : An " Altercation " . . . 350 

297. Taking a Vote of the Senate. A Sentence of Ban- 

ishment 351 

Chapter XVIII. The Courts and the Orators. The 

Great Baths. The Public Parks and Environs of 


298. Roman Court Procedure Highly Scientific . . . 353 

299. The Great Tribunals in the Basilicas . . . .354 

300. Great Stress on Advocacy 355 

301. Cheap Pettifogging Lawyers 356 

302. Character Witnesses ; Torture of Slave Witnesses . . 357 

303. Written Evidence ; High Development of the Advocate's 

Art 357 

304. Popularity and Necessity of the Baths . . . .358 

305. Luxurious Private Baths 359 

306. Government and Privately Owned Public Baths : Both 

Very Popular 360 

307. The Great Baths of Trajan: Baths, Club-House, and 

Cafe* 361 

308. Heterogeneous Crowds in the Great Baths . . . 362 

309. Entering the Thermae 363 

310. Interior of the Baths : the Cold Room (Frigidarium) . 364 

311. The Great Swimming Pool and the Tepidarium . . 365 

312. The Hot Baths (Ccddaria) : Their Sensuous Luxury . 366 

313. Restaurants, Small Shops, and Sports in or around the 

Baths 367 

314. The Great Porticoes along the Campus Martius. The 

Park System towards the Tiber 368 

xvi Contents 


315. Public Buildings upon the Campus Martius . . . 369 

316. The Tombs of Hadrian and Augustus .... 370 

Chapter XIX. The Public Games: the Theater, 
the Circus, and the Amphitheater 

317. Roman Festivals : Their Great Number . . .374 

318. Passion for Public Spectacles : Mania for Gambling . 375 

319. Expenses of Public Spectacles to Great Officials . . 376 

320. Indescribable Popularity of the Games .... 377 

321. The Theater Less Popular than the Circus or Amphi- 

theater 378 

322. The Mimes : Character Plays 380 

323. The Pantomimes : Their Real Art 381 

324. Extreme Popularity of the Circus 382 

325. Popular Charioteers (Aurigce) : the Great Racing 

Factions 383 

326. The Circus Maximus 384 

327. The Race-Track : Procession before the Races . . 384 

328. Beginning a Race in the Circus 386 

329. Perils of the Races ; Proclaiming the Victors . . . 386 

330. Gladiatorial Contests Even More Popular than the 

Circus 389 

331. Gladiator Fights at Funerals 390 

332. Gladiator "Schools" (Ludi) : Inmates Usually Crim- 

inals 390 

333. Severe Training of Gladiators; Their Ephemeral 

Glory 392 

334. Normal Arrangements for an Arena Contest . . . 393 

335. The Flavian Amphitheater (Later "Colosseum") . . 394 

336. Exterior and Ticket Entrances to the Flavian Amphi- 

theater 396 

337. Interior Arrangements of the Flavian .... 396 

338. Procession of Gladiators 397 

339. Throwing a Criminal to the Beasts. The Animal 

Hunt 398 

340. Interval in the Contests: Scattering of Lottery 

Tickets . 399 

341. Beginning the Regular Gladiatorial Combats . . . 401 

Contents xvii 


342. Mounted Combats: the Signals for Ruthlessness and 

Mercy . 403 

343. Combats between Netters (Retiarii) and Heavy- 

Armed Warriors ("Thracians") ..... 404 

344. End of the Combats : Rewarding the Victors . . 405 

Chapter XX. The Roman Religion: the Priest- 
hoods, the Vestal Virgins 

345. Religious Symbols Everywhere in Rome . . . 407 

346. Epicureanism and Agnosticism among the Upper 

Classes 407 

347. Stoicism : Revival of Religion under the Empire 408 

348. Foreign Cults Intruded upon the "Religion of Numa". 410 

349. Superstitious Piety of the City Plebeians . . .411 

350. Roman Religion Originally Developed by Italian 

Farmers . 411 

351. Native Italian Gods: Janus, Saturn, Flora, The 

Lares and Penates 413 

352. Personified Virtues as Gods : Cold and Legalistic Char- 

acter of the Roman Religion ..... 414 

353. Priestly Offices : Little Sacrosanct about Them . 416 

354. ThePontifices 417 

355. The Augurs . 418 

356. The Flamens 420 

357. The ScMi (" Holy Leapers") ...... 421 

358. The Feticdes ("Sacred Heralds") : Ceremony of Declar- 

ing War 422 

359. The Arval Brethren (Fratres Armies) . . .423 

360. Rustic Ceremonies; Soothsaying, Astrologers, and 

Witches 424 

361. A Private Sacrifice 425 

362. Ceremony at the Temple ...... 426 

363. A Formal Prayer : the Actual Sacrifice . . 428 

364. The Vestal Virgins : Their Sanctity and Importance . 429 

365. The Temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestals . 431 

366. Appointment of Vestals 432 

367. Duties of the Vestals : the Maxima .... 433 

368. Punishments of Erring Vestals ..... 434 

369. Remarkable Honors Granted the Vestals . . .435 

xviii Contents 

Chapter XXI. The Foreign Cults: Cybele, Isis, 
Mithras. The Christians in Pagan Eyes 


370. Saturnalia : the Exchange of Presents on New Year's 

Day 437 

371. Multiplication of Oriental Cults 437 

372. The Cult of the Deified Emperors 439 

373. The "Divine Augustus" and His Successors . . . 439 

374. The Cult of Cybele, the "Great Mother" . .441 

375. Cult of Isis and Associated Egyptian Gods . . . 442 

376. Ceremonies at an Isis Temple 443 

377. Cult of Serapis and of Other Oriental Gods . . .445 

378. The Cult of Mithras : Its Relative Nobility . . .445 

379. The Taurobolium (" Bath in Bull's Blood 75 ) . .447 

380. The Christians : Pagan Account of Their Origin . . 449 

381. The Persecution of Christians : Their "Insane Obsti- 

nacy" 450 

382. Current Charges against the Christians . . . .451 

Chapter XXH A Roman Villa. The Love of the 

383. Appreciation of Country Life by the Romans . . . 453 

384. Praises of the Country Towns and Villas . . . 453 

385. Comfortable Modes of Travel : Luxurious Litters 

and Carriages . 454 

386. Multiplication of Villas: Seashore Estates at Baise, 

etc. 456 

387. Villas in the Mountains ; Small Farms near Rome . . 457 

388. Great Estates in the Hills : Pliny's Tuscan Villa . . 458 

389. Charming Location of Pliny's Villa .... 460 

390. Terraces of the Villa: the Porticoes: Summer-Houses 

and Bedrooms 462 

391. The Baths : the Rear Apartments : the Riding Course 464 

392. The Fountains and Luxurious Pavilions in the Gardens . 465 

393. Life of Sensuous Luxury at Such a Villa. Contrast in 

Human Conditions under the Roman, Regime . . 466 

Chapter XXTLI. The Return of the Emperor 

394. Character of Hadrian : Prosperity and Good Government 

of His Reign 468 

Contents xix 


395. Return of Hadrian to Italy 469 

396. Imperial Procession Entering Rome .... 470 

397. Hailing the Emperor 472 

398. The Donatives, F6tes, and Games 472 

399. A Christian Gathering 473 

INDEX 475 



Interior of Great Public Baths in Imperial Rome . Frontispiece 

Map of Rome in the Days of Hadrian 6 

Capitoline Hill and Temples as seen from Palatine ... 8 

Typical Temple Front 12 

Arch of Constantine 13 

Street in Pompeii . 16 

Stepping Stones across a Side Street 17 

Street Scene before a Cook-Shop 19 

Shrine at the Crossways 20 

Monument of a Wine Seller 28 

Tenants Paying Rent to a Landlord's Agent .... 38 

Atrium of House in Pompeii 41 

Plan of a Roman Mansion 43 

Interior of a Roman Mansion 44 

Scene in a Peristylium 45 

Roman Type of House at Pompeii 46 

Corner in a Garden in Rear of a Roman House ... 48 

Portrait Bust Pompey the Great 52 

Typical Roman Portrait Marc Antony .... 53 

Roman Lamps 55 

Altar with Design of a Curule Chair 56 

A Roman Matron 62 

Wedded Pair with Camittus 76 

Seated Noblewoman 77 

Romans wearing the Toga 81 

A Roman Matron : showing the stola and patta ... 87 

Scene before a Barber's Shop . 91 

Roman Female Heads 92 

Sandals 95 

Roman Jewelry and Ornaments 96 

Roman Banquet Scene 101 

Grist Mill turned by Horse 103 

Nine Gueste in a Triclinium 116 


xxii Illustrations 


Roman Serving Forks 117 

Drinking Cup 118 

Slaves working in a Bakery . . . . . . .131 

Clients gathering in the Rain, before their Patron's Door . 149 
Invalid with Attendants . . . . . .162 

Scene along the Appian Way 178 

Pyramid Tomb of Gaius Cestius 179 

View along the Appian Way showing Funeral Monuments . 180 
Street of the Tombs at Pompeii . . . . .181 

Boy Studying 194 

School Discipline 196 

Grammarian instructing Two Upper Pupils .... 200 

Wax Tablet with Stilus Attached 207 

Writing Tablets and Stilus 208 

Book Cupboard 209 

Book Container 210 

Double Inkstand 210 

Pen and Scroll 211 

Book Scroll 212 

Old Forum, looking towards Northern Side : restoration . 216 

Tradesmen's Scales and Balances 224 

Monument of a Hostler ........ 231 

Gateway at Pompeii : present state ..... 232 

Cheap Grocery and Cook-Shop ...... 235 

River Boat Loaded with Hogsheads of Wine .... 241 

Distributing Bread 243 

Oven and Grist Mill in a Bakery ...... 245 

Environs of Rome 247 

General View of Old Forum and Capitol 254 

Old Forum : present state, looking towards the Capitol . . 255 

The Heart of Rome; the Fora, the Palatine, etc. . . . 261 

Spoils from Jerusalem : Arch of Titus 263 

View through the Arch of Titus 264 

Old Forum : looking west. Restoration 266 

Old Forum, looking towards Capitol. Restoration . . 267 

Old Forum, present condition, looking east .... 270 

Interior of a Basilica : restored 273 

The Tarpeian Rock 275 

Forum of Augustus and Temple of Mars the Avenger; 

restored 277 

Illustrations xxiii 


An Imperial Forum, near the Column of Trajan. Restora- 
tion 279 

Interior of the Pantheon. Restoration 281 

Arch of Titus 287 

Palatine and Palace of the Csesars. Restoration . . .289 

Roman Urn 290 

Caesar Augustus 298 

Ruined Aqueduct in the Roman Campagna .... 302 

Praetorian Guardsmen 310 

ASlinger 315 

Roman Siege Works. Restoration 316 

Storming a City with the Testitdo 317 

Catapult 318 

Cuirass 319 

Javelin: pilum 320 

Sword 320 

Helmet 321 

Shield of the Legionary 322 

Military Trumpet 323 

Legionaries 324 

Roman Officer . 325 

Light-Armed Soldier 327 

Storming a Besieged City 331 

Coop of Sacred Chickens 341 

Cicero denouncing Catiline before the Senate . . . .346 

Plan of Roman Public Baths 363 

Castle of St. Angelo : Tomb of Hadrian in its present state . 371 

Tomb of Hadrian. Restored 372 

At the Theater Entrance 376 

Theater at Pompeii 379 

Circus Maximus. Restoration 385 

Race in the Circus Maximus 388 

Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum) : present state . . . 395 

Boxers 400 

Gladiators saluting the Editor 402 

Defeated Gladiator Appealing for Mercy .... 403 

Maison Carrie, Nlmes 408 

Farmer's Calendar 413 

Circular Temple, probably of Goddess Matuta, Rome . . 415 

Roman Altar 425 

xxii Illustrations 


Eoman Serving Forks 117 

Drinking Cup 118 

Slaves working in a Bakery 131 

Clients gathering in the Rain, before their Patron's Door . 149 

Invalid with Attendants 162 

Scene along the Appian Way 178 

Pyramid Tomb of Gaius Cestius ...... 179 

View along the Appian Way showing Funeral Monuments . 180 
Street of the Tombs at Pompeii . . . . .181 

Boy Studying 194 

School Discipline 196 

Grammarian instructing Two Tipper Pupils .... 200 

Wax Tablet with Stilus Attached 207 

Writing Tablets and Stilus 208 

Book Cupboard 209 

Book Container 210 

Double Inkstand 210 

Pen and Scroll 211 

Book Scroll 212 

Old Forum, looking towards Northern Side : restoration . 216 

Tradesmen's Scales and Balances 224 

Monument of a Hostler 231 

Gateway at Pompeii : present state 232 

Cheap Grocery and Cook-Shop 235 

River Boat Loaded with Hogsheads of Wine .... 241 

Distributing Bread 243 

Oven and Grist Mill in a Bakery 245 

Environs of Rome 247 

General View of Old Forum and Capitol 254 

Old Forum : present state, looking towards the Capitol . . 255 

The Heart of Rome; the Fora, the Palatine, etc. . . . 261 

Spoils from Jerusalem : Arch of Titus 263 

View through the Arch of Titus 264 

Old Forum : looking west. Restoration 266 

Old Forum, looking towards Capitol. Restoration . . 267 

Old Forum, present condition, looking east .... 270 

Interior of a Basilica : restored 273 

The Tarpeian Rock 275 

Forum of Augustus and Temple of Mars the Avenger: 

restored 277 

Illustrations xxiii 


An Imperial Forum, near the Column of Trajan. Restora- 
tion 279 

Interior of the Pantheon. Restoration 281 

Arch of Titus 287 

Palatine and Palace of the Caesars. Restoration . . . 289 

Roman Urn 290 

Csesar Augustus 298 

Ruined Aqueduct in the Roman Campagna .... 302 

Praetorian Guardsmen 310 

A Slinger 315 

Roman Siege Works. Restoration 316 

Storming a City with the Testudo 317 

Catapult 318 

Cuirass 319 

Javelin : pilum 320 

Sword 320 

Helmet 321 

Shield of the Legionary 322 

Military Trumpet 323 

Legionaries 324 

Roman Officer . 325 

Light-Armed Soldier 327 

Storming a Besieged City 331 

Coop of Sacred Chickens 341 

Cicero denouncing Catiline before the Senate .... 346 

Plan of Roman Public Baths 363 

Castle of St. Angelo : Tomb of Hadrian in its present state . 371 

Tomb of Hadrian. Restored 372 

At the Theater Entrance 376 

Theater at Pompeii 379 

Circus Maximus. Restoration 385 

Race in the Circus Maximus 388 

Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum) : present state . . . 395 

Boxers 400 

Gladiators saluting the Editor 402 

Defeated Gladiator Appealing for Mercy .... 403 

Maison Carrie, Nimes 408 

Farmer's Calendar 413 

Circular Temple, probably of Goddess Matuta, Rome . . 415 

Roman Altar 425 

xxiv Illustrations 


A Military Sacrifice 427 

Roman Altar 428 

Vestal Virgin 430 

Archi-Gallus, Priest of Cybele 441 

Shrine of Cybele 442 

Mithras the Bull Slayer 446 

Mithraic Emblems 447 

Traveling Carriage (Redo) 454 

Roman Bridge 455 

Roman Spades 458 

Ruins of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli (Tibur) . . . .459 

Ruins of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli (Tibur) .... 460 

Villa of Pliny the Younger; restored 461 

Roman Garden Scene 463 

Marble Urn or Garden Ornament 464 

Hadrian 469 

View in the Christian Catacombs 473 




1. The Prosperity of Rome in the Reign of Hadrian (117- 
138 A.D.). In the year 134 A.D. the great Emperor Hadrian 
was turning his steps back to Rome after three long journeys 
of inspection over his enormous dominions. Never before 
had that Empire seemed so prosperous. No serious war 
was upon the horizon. The Parthian king and the Germanic 
chiefs were only too happy to keep beyond the Euphrates or 
the Rhine and the Danube, highly respectful before the 
disciplined power of the guardian legions. 

In the provinces there was generally loyalty and con- 
tentment, save only in unhappy Judsea where the Roman 
generals were stamping out the last embers of a desperate 
rebellion, undertaken by those Jews allowed to remain in 
Palestine after Titus's capture of Jerusalem (70 A.D.). The 
imperial government created by Augustus and strengthened 
by later emperors appeared an unqualified success, while the 
tyrannies of Nero and Domitian were becoming things merely 
of frightened memory. 

All over this vast Empire with a population and area nearly 
equal to that of the United States there reigned the blessed 
Pax Romana. Robbers had been cleared from the roads 
and pirates from the seas. Commerce went to and fro with 
surprisingly little interference from customs barriers or 
provincial boundaries. The same coin was current from the 


A Day in Old Rome 

cataracts of the Nile to the Caledonian Wall across Britain. 
A scientific system of law, on the whole administered with 
remarkable firmness and justice, prevailed between the 
same wide boundaries. 

The central government was, indeed, in essence a des- 
potism, but it was a despotism infused with an extreme intel- 
ligence, and it left many of the forms of liberty, especially of 
local liberty, in the municipal matters which touch men 
nearest home. The Emperor Hadrian, himself, although 
sometimes guilty of eccentricities and even harshness, was, 
in the main, a ruler singularly intent upon benefiting his 
subjects. In all his constant travels he had showered 
favors upon the communities which he visited. It was as if 
he (and his great predecessor Trajan) had set out to justify 
monarchy as an ideal government by showing how much good 
monarchs could do to the governed. 

2. Increasing Glory of the Imperial City, All this pros- 
perity had inevitably reacted upon the city of Rome itself. 
In a most literal sense of the word " all roads led to Rome," 
not merely the vast netwdrk of government highways and 
the paths of maritime commerce, but those of intellectual, 
artistic, and moral influence. Rome was incomparably the 
best market for the merchant, it provided the largest audi- 
ences for the philosopher or rhetorician, the wealthiest patrons 
for the sculptor. It had, in fact, become the common center 
and crucible for everything good and bad in the huge, 
teeming Mediterranean World. 

Outwardly the city was near the summit of its architec- 
tural perfection. In Cicero's day it could not compare in the 
elegance of its squares and avenues, and the magnificence of 
its buildings with Alexandria, Antioch, or several lesser cities 
which lay at the mercy of the legions ; but with the coming 
of the Empire there has been an incessant process of de- 
molishing, rebuilding, and extending. " I found Rome 

The General Aspect of the City 3 

built of brick; I leave it built of marble," Augustus had 
boasted when near his end (14 A.D.). However, even after 
him, there had been only a gradual transformation until the 
great fire of Nero in 64 A.D. Terrible as has then been the 
devastation, the calamity has at least required a general 
rebuilding of almost half of the city usually upon a much 
handsomer and more artistic scale. Since then each suc- 
ceeding Emperor has tried to leave some great architectural 
memorial behind him. Vespasian and Titus have built the 
Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum), Trajan a noble Forum, 
and Hadrian is now completing a magnificent " Temple 
of Venus and Rome." 

After this time there will perhaps be a few more remarkable 
structures erected, e.g. the Baths of Caracalla and of Dio- 
cletian and the Basilica (Court House) of Constantine, but 
for practical purposes imperial Rome has now been created. 
In 134 A.D. it is already architecturally what it will be in 
410 A.D. (except then for a certain decadence) when Alaric's 
Goths knocked at the gates. There is, therefore, hardly a 
better time than this year, 134 A.D., to visit the " Eternal 
City/' if we would discuss the best and the worst, the strength 
and the weakness of that Roman society which is to hold 
men fascinated across the ages. Let it be assumed, therefore, 
that on a warm spring morning we are being guided about the 
enormous capital of which bronze-skinned Arabs and blond- 
haired Frisians alike speak in awestruck whispers ; the city 
apparently ordained by the gods to be the center and ruler 
of the conquered world. 

3. Population and Crowded Condition of Rome. Before 
entering such a metropolis it is a fair question to present: 
" How large is Rome, at this time of our supposed visit? " 
Unfortunately the imperial government will fail to transmit 
to later ages its census statistics, and the conjectures of 
learned men will vary most seriously. By taking into ac- 

4 A Day in Old Rome 

count some data as to the number of citizens receiving grain 
doles, by adding to these the known size of the garrison, by 
establishing the extent of a great colony of resident foreigners 
and the still greater hordes of slaves, assertions can be made 
that the population exceeds 2,000,000, and again that it is 
barely 800,000. Both reckonings may be quite wrong. 
It seems reasonable to suppose that in Julius Caesar's day 
the city lacked considerably of 1,000,000 inhabitants, but 
these probably increased with the rising prosperity of the 
Empire. Hadrian's " City Praefect " perhaps has to ad- 
minister the peace for some 1,500,000 people. In later gen- 
erations, however, the population will again slowly dwindle 
with the wave of the imperial system. 

However, this million and a half produces a sense of im- 
mensity greater perhaps than that in a later New York or 
London. Rome is, roughly speaking, some three miles 
long and nearly the same in breadth, no remarkable area as 
American cities will go ; 1 but, as duly explained, population 
within these limits is extraordinarily congested. The streets 
overflow with pedestrians to the exclusion of most wheeled 
traffic. There are no " rapid transit " cars, no taxicabs, 
no telephones, and even no public postal service. 

If, therefore, you have the slightest business across the 
city, you must walk the entire distance, or be borne in a 
litter or send a messenger methods taking about equally 
long. As will be seen, even the use of horses and carriages 
is largely prohibited. Besides, the mild climate and method 
of building the houses compel people to spend a great frac- 
tion of their day in the streets, or in the public plazas and 
buildings. Human life teems everywhere. One is over- 
whelmed by the jostling multitudes even in the remoter 

1 Outside of these limits were, of course, wide and populous sub- 
urbs whose inhabitants might be included in the estimated total of 

The General Aspect of the City 5 

quarters. Everything (including many personal acts which 
other ages keep in strict privacy) seems going on in public. 
There is, in fact, no city where it is easier to be " lost in a 
crowd " than in Rome ; no city where the good and the bad, 
the divine and the bestial in humanity are so incessantly 
in evidence and in such abrupt contact. 

4. The Country around Rome. Rome is some thirteen 
miles from the nearest seacoast, but the distance down the 
twisting "yellow" Tiber to Ostia ("River Mouth") is 
nearly twice as great. The city itself lies near the northerly 
end 01 that buoad plain later called the Campagna which 
stretches southeasterly for nearly seventy miles but whereof 
the width betwixt ocean and Apennines seldom exceeds 
twenty-five. Looking off from any of the heights of Rome 
towards the east, the whole horizon from north to south 
seems traced by a continuous chain of mountains about ten 
to twenty miles distant. Very beautiful they are when seen 
through a soft blue or golden haze beneath the Italian sky ; 
and by facing straight north one can discover the round 
isolated peak of Mount S6racte (2420 feet high), made famous 
by the poets, near whose southeastern base the Tiber winds 
on its tortuous progress towards the sea. 

Then following the line of mountains southward one can 
notice the chain of the Sabine hills, some with peaked and 
lofty summits, and next is discovered the spot where the 
Tiber rests embosomed in its gray olive groves. More 
southward still are the hills on whose slopes rests " Cool 
Praeneste," and then, running over a horizon of four or 
five miles and ending in the plain, is beheld the noble form 
of Mount Albinus, the isolated volcanic peak sacred to the 
Latin Jupiter and at whose base by tradition lay Alba Longa, 
the parent town of Rome ; after that the view takes in noth- 
ing but the undulating plain, which at length sinks off into 
the sea. 


A Day in Old Rome 

5. The Tiber and Its Valley. Near at hand, of course, 
is the Campagna itself, a series of gentle ridges, covered at 
this epoch with one long series of delightful suburban villas 
and thrifty produce farms, sometimes grouped into rich little 
villages. 1 In a general direction of north to south the Tiber 
flows along the western skirts of Rome, with only a minor 

1. Ofcttlt Ukrkt 
(Forum Bowttrai) 


Map of BOMB 

in the Days of Hadrian 
about 136 A.D. 

4. Plralnltn Olrau 

Ctwnlt of th old 8-rrUn 


7. SMpteJnll* 

built alt?. Circuit of Uttr 
Aunltu Wtlli, built M 
S76 A.D. IndlOTtM rt 
iriiloh VM pnbftbly by tb* 
( of Hftdriim ftOrty tiiAlj 

settlement on the western banks. If it ran by a less famous 
city, the Tiber would pass for a rather ordinary stream. Its 
yellow, turbid waters come with such force from the Apen- 
nines that there can be little navigation fbr part of the year 
beyond the point where the Anio flows into it from the east, 
about three miles above Rome. Grain and timber can, how- 

1 At present, of course, largely a treeless waste, very sparsely popu- 
lated and afflicted with malaria. 

The General Aspect of the City 7 

ever, be floated down on barges, and when the mountain 
snows are melting the river swells to a truly dangerous size, 
flooding all the lowlands near the city and sometimes, de- 
spite a careful system of dykes, causing freshets which are 
simply ruinous to large sections of the metropolis inhabited 
by the very poor. The Emperors Augustus and Tiberius 
set up a regular board of " Tiber Commissioners " to keep the 
rebellious river in bounds, but their efforts are still often vain. 

Between Rome and Ostia the Tiber is indeed navigable 
at most seasons for the smaller kind of vessels, but, as will 
be seen, Rome is scarcely a first-class seaport; however, 
special river craft easily bring up heavy freight from Ostia 
an enormous economic advantage for the great city. 

6. A View over Rome from the Campus Martius. Be- 
fore descending into the city it is well to ascend some height 
or lofty building well to the western verge of the Campus 
Martius (" Field of Mars ") at the great bend of the Tiber 
as ft sweeps by its levees. Before the onlooker there spreads 
what seems at first an indescribable confusion of enormous 
buildings, gilded roofs, stately domes, serried phalanxes of 
marble columns and far-stretching porticoes, some on level 
ground, others upon the summits or clinging to the slopes of 
several hills. Mixed with these are an incalculable number 
of red-tiled roofs obviously covering more humble private 
structures. Here and there, mostly on the outskirts, are also 
broad patches of greenery, public parks, and private gardens. 

After more study, however, the first confusion begins to 
adjust itself into a kind of order. It is possible, for example, 
to recognize directly in the foreground a small and compara- 
tively abrupt hill crowned at either end by temples of pecu- 
liar magnificence. This is the Capitol, particularly the seat 
of the fane of Jupiter Optimus Maodmus (" Jupiter Best and 
Greatest "), officially the chief temple of Rome. Beyond 
it at a certain distance rises a gray cylinder of enormous 


A Day in Old Rome 

bulk. That, of course, is the Flavian Amphitheater, and in 
the hollow between it and the capitol but nigh concealed by 
many structures stretches the Old Forum of the Republic 
the most famous spot in Rome. To the south of the 
Forum, and in no wise concealed, lifts another hill covered 
with a vast complex of buildings, which, even when seen in 
the distance, is of extraordinary splendor. This is the Pala- 
tine, the present residence of the Caesars and the seat of the 

cording to Von Falke. 

Just to the south and right of the Palatine there runs a long 
hollow, the edges of which flash with settings of marble; 
it is the Cirvua Maximus, the chief race course. These are 
the structures or localities that stand out clearly at first 
glance. Close at hand, in the Campus Martius itself, is a 
perfect labyrinth of covered promenades, dome-capped pub- 
lic baths, theaters, and circuses, as well as the remarkable 
Pantheon and other far-famed structures, the details whereof 
can wait. Behind the onlooker is winding the Tiber, spanned 
by at least eight bridges ; and across the river, before the 

The General Aspect of the City 9 

view wanders off into the hills of Etruria, are seen numerous 
suburban settlements and heights whereof the most con- 
spicuous is that around Mount Janiculum crested with ver- 
dant gardens. But our attention must be centered upon 
Rome itself. Before descending from the coign of vantage 
it is needful to distinguish her Seven Hills. 

7. The Seven Hills of Rome. The two most famous 
of these hills (the Capitoline and the Palatine) have been 
named already, but they have five distinguished rivals. 
Probably in prehistoric days all these " mountains " rose 
like separate islands from a treacherous marsh or even from 
a lake connected with the Tiber ; but long since they have 
silted down, and presently man came to add his drains and 
channels. They are now, therefore, connected by valleys 
which are crammed with habitations, although in any case 
the most desirable residences are near the summits of the 
hills and the humble folk are compelled to live in the gulleys. 
Each of these hills has a history : for example, the Aventine 
is alleged to have remained apart from the others for long 
after the founding of the city, merely as a fortified outpost 
for the protection of shepherds ; but we cannot stop to recite 
pleasant legends. 

The " Seven Hills " of Rome have really become eight, as 
the city has extended. Not one of these is lofty, but they 
give a diversity to the city that prevents the great masses of 
blank walls and of ungainly tenement houses lining most of 
the streets from becoming too ugly, and they secure light and 
air to many quarters that are grievously congested. 

These hills can be thus catalogued : 

1. Capitoline, about 150 feet above sea level. 1 

2. Palatine (S. E. of Capitoline), about 166 feet high. 

1 These are modern heights ; since the days of the Empire there has been 
much leveling down. All the hills were then somewhat higher. 

10 A Day in Old Rome 

3. Aventine (South of Palatine), about 146 feet high. 

4. Calian (East of Palatine), about 158 feet high. 

5. Esquiline- (North of Ccelian), about 204 feet high. 

6. Viminol (North of Esquiline), about 160 feet high. 

7. Quirinal (N. E, of Capitoline), about 170 feet high. 
To the familiar " seven " ought to be added the hill of the 

great northern suburb. 

8. Pincian, or " Hill of the Gardens " (North of Quirinal), 
about 204 feet high. 

Highest of all rises the Janiculum beyond the Tiber, 297 
feet high ; commanding a noble prospect over the city and 
the whole Campagna beyond. It formed, therefore, in the 
olden days, a very proper place for the fort with its watch- 
tower and its sentinel, when Rome dreaded an Etruscan raid 
from the north, and when the citizens dropped their tools 
to seize their weapons the minute the " flag on Janiculum " 
was struck as signal that the foe was at hand. 

8. Building Materials Used in Home. The most cur- 
sory view of the city gives an overwhelming impression of the 
enormous quantities of building material, as well as of the ex- 
penditure .of human labor which has gone into the creation 
of Rome. Strabo the geographer 1 has wisely observed 
that it is lucky that the city can get a constant supply of 
stone, timber, etc., on account of " the ceaseless building 
which is rendered needful by the pulling down of houses and 
on account of the great fires and constant sales of [house] 
property/ 7 everybody being incessantly scrapping old 
buildings, erecting new ones, and speculating generally in 
real estate. 

Of course, the great public buildings are erected with ex- 
tremely durable materials which will defy the assaults of 
time, but the vast districts of ugly tenement houses are often 

1 He wrote hia great " Geography " not long after 1 A.D. 

The General Aspect of the City 11 

thrown together in as flimsy a manner as those in the least 
elegant quarters of American cities of another age. How- 
ever, there are almost no wooden houses in Rome ; and for 
the better structures there is provided most excellent build- 
ing stone. The standard masonry is of tufa, a soft red or 
black stone needing a stucco to protect it from the weather ; 
for superior work there is dark brown peperino, golden 
travertine, and last but not least, for the finest buildings, 
white and many colored marble. The marble trade, as will 
be explained, is, in fact, one of the greatest commercial ac- 
tivities of the city. 

9. The Great Use of Concrete. Going about Rome one 
is led to imagine, however, that many very pretentious 
structures are of solid brick. This is seldom the case. Bricks 
and tiles are often in evidence because they can be worked 
into the face of naturally ugly concrete to disguise the 
nakedness of its surfaces. Concrete has really made it com- 
paratively easy to create Rome as an enormous city. If 
concrete has not been invented by the Romans, they are at 
least the first great people to put it to a very general use. 
In their neighborhood can be found huge quantities of 
pozzolana, 1 a volcanic deposit which can be readily worked 
up into admirable cement. It is this very practical material 
which makes the vast domes, cupolas, and other architec- 
tural triumphs possible. Many a pretentious temple or resi- 
dence flaunts a marble exterior ; this, however, is a mere shell 
and covering ; strip it away, and within is an enormous mass 
of concrete. 

This material can be handled by comparatively small 
labor gangs, rendering it feasible to erect huge structures 
without mobilizing such wholesale man-power as was needed 
for the great monuments of Egypt. It is very durable, 

1 This and many other terms for Roman building materials are from 
the modern Italian. 

A Day in Old Rome 

almost nothing can destroy it. Indeed it will be written 
later that " This pozzolana [for concrete] more than any other 
material contributed to make Rome the proverbial ' Eternal 
City.' " [Middleton.] 

10. Greek Architectural Forms Plus the Arch and Vault. 
Every building by the Tiber apparently bears the impress of 

Greece. Greek archi- 
tects are said to have 
designed many of the 
finest public edifices, 
while Greek artists have 
chiseled the statues or 
painted the pictures 
which all the Roman 
world admires. The 
" orders " of the col- 
umns everywhere in evi- 
dence are the Doric, 
Ionic, or Corinthian 
that one might find at 
Athens, although it can 
be complained that the Romans are over-fond of the most 
ornate form the florid Corinthian. 

In general, lovers of the purer architectural types of Hellas 
may allege that Roman architecture and ornamentation is too 
elaborate and extravagant. There are too many scrolls and 
floriated designs. Every possible surface is covered with 
statuary or bas-reliefs, often in decidedly inferior taste. 
There is too garish a display, also, of blue, green, white, 
and orange-colored marble. The whole effect of most 
Roman buildings is, therefore, grand rather than beautiful. 
It is the architecture of a civilization apparently growing 
a little weary and striving to startle itself by remarkable 


The General Aspect of the City 13 

Nevertheless, this borrowing from Greece has not been 
slavish. Romans, if not great artists, are master adapters. 
Perhaps they have not invented the arch and the vault, * but 
in any case they have utilized them in connection with the 
Greek system of columns to produce magnificent effects 
whereof Argos and Ephesus never dreamed. By concrete 

ARCH OP CONSTANTINE: typical of many triumphal arches: date about 

315 A*D. 

vaulting can be made those enormous substructures which 
sustain the great palaces, and again, the lofty domes of such 
splendid creations as the Pantheon. By the arches can be 
upheld the tiers of the Flavian Amphitheater, the pretentious 
company of theaters and circuses, and last but not least the 
long arrays of stately aqueducts which bring the great water 

1 Very possibly the Etruscans were the actual inventors, although the 
principle of the arch was known in the Old Orient. 

14 A Day in Old Rome 

supply so many miles to Rome. Underground also the arch 
system is upbearing the vast network of sewers which has 
redeemed the city from a quagmire. In the fora and across 
many avenues are thrown in their turn the imposing triumphal 
arches, crowned with heroic statues or with prancing chariots 
which are unmatched by anything in Greece. 

Having taken in the generalities, it is now proper to go 
down from our viewpoint and plunge boldly into the vast 
city. The wise man should not, however, visit at first the 
Fora, the Palatine, and the other " show places " which 
officious guides here as everywhere are always glad to display 
to visitors. More helpful it is to examine at the outset 
certain typical streets first in a poor and next in a more aris- 
tocratic quarter, to enter the houses, and to penetrate the 
daily lives of the masses of the people. Then with bet- 
ter understanding can one approach the famous " Heart of 


11. The Regions of Rome: Fashionable and Plebeian 
Quarters. The great Augustus divided the capital into 
14 regiones or "wards" and these in turn into 265 vid or 
precincts. Obviously some of these districts are more select 
than others. No citizen of decent tastes will, unless com- 
pelled by dire poverty, live in the network of hovels beyond 
the bridges and under the brow of the Janiculum, where a 
great colony of Jews and other Orientals exist in what is 
alleged to be extreme squalor. If you go south also from the 
Forum and Palatine, you are likely to run into a wide com- 
plex of unlovely industrial districts and laborers' quarters, 
especially along ihe Tiber, although there are still some very 
good residential streets upon the Aventine. 

In general the northern end of the city is the fashionable 
section, although the Subura, the street running out between 
the Esquiline and the Viminal, is notorious for containing 
some of the vilest tenements in all Rome. To live in a " Su- 
bura garret " is about the greatest possible degradation 
socially. Right above this ill-favored avenue, however, 
slopes the Esquiline itself, lined with the palaces of many of 
the most exclusive Senators. Pliny the Younger resided 
there in his lifetime, 1 and a rich ex-consul has his house at 
present. Rome is, in fact, decidedly like many later cities ; 
walk only a few blocks, and one can pass from the bottom to 
the top of the social ladder. Further north, in the regions 
of the parks and public gardens, the fine residences are prob- 

1 He died about 110 A.D. 



A Day in Old Rome 

ably more continuous, but one can never know Rome by 
merely visiting its ultra-genteel quarters. There is, conse- 
quently, no better place to begin an investigation than near 
the Esquiline, let us say where the disreputable Subura runs 
northeast towards the somewhat more select " Patrician 
Street " (View Patritius). 

STREET IN POMPEII : present state. Note the pavement, the stepping 
stones, the wayside fountain, and the numerous subdivisions into small 
houses or shops. 

12. A Typical Short Street, "Mercury Street/' We 
may wisely take our stand facing somewhat southward, with 
our backs to the Viminal and with the domes of the huge 
Baths of Trajan partially in sight upon the heights ahead. 
It is a little after dawn on a warm spring morning ; but all 
Rome, we shall discover, rises very early, and normally goes 
to bed correspondingly early. Even the sedate " Conscript 
Fathers " of the Senate are supposed to convene at prima 
luce, gray morn. What can be seen ? 

Streets and Street Life 


To any later judgment this " Mercury Street " (so named 
from a local temple) * is very narrow, not over fifteen feet 
from housewall to housewall. Although the sun has now 
risen the way is still uncomfortably dark, because the houses 
pressing on either side 
rise to at least thirty 
or forty feet. The 
roadway, one discov- 
ers, is skillfully and 
durably paved with 
heavy lava blocks, and 
since it forms a regu- 
lar thoroughfare it has 
been swept reasonably 
clean ; although to 
right and left in the 
semi-darkness can be 
descried impossible al- 
leys barely ten feet 
wide winding off be- 
tween the tall build- 
ings, and these side 
passages are more than 
dirty. This street, like 
the great majority in 
Rome, is comparatively 
short. You come to an 

a gentleman followed by personal slave 
with umbrella. After Von Falke* 

abrupt turn, or perhaps to an ascending flight of stone steps 
worn slippery by innumerable sandals, and immediately enter 
into a quite different quarter. 

There is a very narrow stone sidewalk but it differs slightly 
before each house, every owner being required to make his 
own repairs. In the pavement broad ruts have been worn 

* A well-known avenue in Pompeii was called "Mercury Street.'* 

18 A Day in Old Rome 

by the wagons, despite the restrictions (presently stated) upon 
wheeled traffic. Very few streets of Rome are wide enough 
for two carts to pass freely; and every driver has to look 
ahead and frequently to wait at corners to let other teams 
get by. Upon the pavement and especially at intersecting 
crossways are set groups of four or five large oblong stepping 
stones ; these seem needless at present but can be a veritable 
godsend in the rainy season when every " Via " and " Vicus " 
in Rome seems converted into a raging torrent. 

13. The House and Shop Fronts. Looking upward 
now, one is instantly confronted by a long expanse of stuc- 
coed walls some pink, yellow, or bluish, but mostly an 
ugly brown. The lower story, quite on the street level, is 
broken either by the petty shops which open their shutters 
and thrust their counters clear out upon the pavement, or 
else it is merely a solid blank space with only here and there 
a doorway, or a few small windows, mere peep-holes for fear 
of burglars. The second and upper stories, however, are less 
solid. There are many larger windows set with window-boxes 
displaying bright flowers, or even with projecting balconies 
which reach out so far that neighbors in opposite houses can 
sometimes clasp hands above the hurrying life below. 

Shops abound almost everywhere. In the great commer- 
cial quarters by the fora, the Tiber and the Campus Martius, 
will be found the splendid establishments which cater to 
wealth, but no quarter of Rome is too mean for its bakeries, 
vegetable stands, wine shops, and cheap restaurants. In 
fact, the absence of a speedy means of interurban communica- 
tion makes a multiplication of small shops absolutely neces- 
sary. Most of these retailers do business on the pettiest 
scale, and a glance reveals that nearly the whole stock in 
trade is spread on the counter facing the street. As for the 
shopkeeper, ordinarily he lives and sleeps either in a dark 
cell just in the rear or in an equally narrow chamber directly 

Streets and Street Life 



A Day in Old Rome 

above his business. " Born over a shop," snobbish people 
say when they wish to brand some person as a nobody. 

14. Street Shrines and Fountains. Nevertheless, com- 
monplace and darksome as this street may seem, there are 
clear tokens both of an active religious, also of an artistic 

life. On the flat wall, 
beside a grocer's stand, 
two serpents are crudely 
painted in yellow em- 
blems of the guardian 
genii of the place. Op- 
posite, by a money- 
changer, is painted a 
fairly presentable Mer- 
cury, the god of Gain. 
As one goes about the 
city the painted snakes 
appear almost every- 
where, and also pictures 
of Jupiter, Minerva, 
and Hercules. 

At the nearby cross- 
roads, however, is some- 
thing more important. 
Set against the side of a 

building is a little niche 
SHRINE AT THE CROSSWAYS. ^ .^ ^ ^ j n ^ 

of an altar. Upon this pious neighbors can deposit small 
articles of food for the " Gods of the Street Crossings " 
(Lares Compitalea), and above is a low relief of two youthful 
deities, male and female. Early as it now is, an old woman 
has already stolen up to deposit a small crust for the little 
neighborhood Lares are good and trusty friends ; they will 
never be forgotten. 

Streets and Street Life 

Opposite this shrine, however, a group of laughing, chatter- 
ing girls is mustering around a gushing fountain. Romans 
are justly proud of their excellent water supply. Every 
house of any pretentions has its separate faucets, perhaps in 
great number ; but the poor tenement dwellers must depend 
upon the street fountains. Pure, clear water is shooting 
from a metal pipe into a broad separate stone basin. The 
stream is issuing from the sculptured head of a Medusa exe- 
cuted with admirable detail and vigor, although this is only 
one of thousands of similar fountains all over the city. At 
the next corner the water is spouting from an eagle's beak ; 
at another from the mouth of a calf, or the head of a Mercury. 

The surplus water overflowing the basin trickles away in 
a streamlet down to the middle of the street, and although 
this adds to the inconvenience of pedestrians the pitch of the 
ground makes the flow carry away much of the rubbish 
(often very filthy) which is thrown out recklessly from the 
shops and even from the upper windows. It is thanks partly 
to this admirable water system that Rome is not even more 
scourged by epidemics, than is unhappily the case. 1 

16. Typical Street Crowds. So much for the inanimate 
objects in Mercury Street ; what now of its surging human- 
ity? A wise law of Julius Csesar has indeed forbidden 
the ordinary use of wheeled vehicles in the city streets be- 
tween sunrise and the " tenth hour " (4 P.M.). This is a 
blessed regulation considering the narrow width of even the 
finest avenues, but, nevertheless, the wagons that were al- 
lowed to enter by night bringing heavy building materials 
to the Senator Rullianus's new mansion have now to be suf- 
fered to depart, and also the wain that had rattled up in the 

1 In describing Roman street life and its scenes let it be said once and 
for all that many very obvious things were so disgusting and revolting to 
modern notions that any description thereof is perforce omitted. Ancient 
life contained a great deal of social dross and filthy wickedness. There is no 
need to dwell on such matters, but then- existence should not*be forgotten. 

A Day in Old Rome 

darkness with flour for the nearby public bakery. Also one 
may possibly see a Vestal Virgin or one of the superior priests 
exercising their special privileges and driving in a chariot. 

The street, however, is crowding with life, even if not a 
horse is in sight. The most conspicuous are literally dozens 
of men, each with a heavy toga wrapped carelessly around 
him, hurrying frantically in every direction. In other cities 
and other ages they might be " making a train/' Here they 
are in fact " clients," duty bound to be at the doors of their 
patrons early every morning to pay their respects and seek 
their bounty (see p. 149) but almost every other type of 
humanity is represented. Great numbers of boys and girls 
are trudging reluctantly along to their schools, the poorer 
bearing their own packages of writing tablets, the better 
dressed each followed by a sedate male attendant, a peda- 
gogue, bearing the weapons of learning. 

In and out there also go youths in humble attire, often 
running at breakneck speed, thrusting and jostling to make 
their way; they are the slave messengers from the great 
houses flying on early errands for their masters. One of 
them elbows aside a tall and venerable man with a prodigi- 
ously long beard and wrapped in a trailing but none too spot- 
less mantle he is a Greek philosopher on his way to some 
mansion where he will perhaps expound the theories of Epi- 
curus to a pleasure-loving nobleman. A few steps further 
and there is seen a fair-haired German clad in his outlandish 
costume of undressed wolf skins ; hardly behind him is a red- 
headed Gaul in a short tartan cloak ; one can speedily recog- 
nize also a hawk-eyed, white-robed Arab from the edge of the 
deserts and presently appears a grinning negro, black as 
ebony and in a splendid gilt and scarlet livery the foot- 
boy probably of some rich lady. 

16. Frequent Use of Greek in Rome. The bulk of the 
crowd, to be sure, is Italian, with keen, olive faces, dark 

Streets and Street Life 23 

hair, and rather short stature, graceful and incessantly 
gesturing. But the Latin chattered on every hand is full 
of uncouth idioms, the sermo plebis calculated to make Cicero 
turn in his grave, and there is a great co-mingling of foreign 
words ; above all, about one person out of every four seems 
to be speaking Greek, now abominably corrupt, now in the 
purest Attic, and upon penetrating the great houses one would 
discover Greek to be even more truly a familiar language. 

All educated Romans write and speak Greek as English- 
men and Americans will never learn to use French. Learned 
books are being written by the Tiber in the incomparable 
tongue of Hellas, and only the most ignorant Romans fail 
to understand simple Greek sentences. In short Rome seems 
close to becoming a bi-lingual city. The reigning emperor 
is so enthusiastic for things Hellenic that his foes brand Ha- 
drian as " the Graecule." Athens and Corinth seem almost 
to have conquered their conquerors. 

17. Clamor and Thronging in the Streets. As the sun 
rises, every instant the street becomes more crowded. A great 
din is rising from a forge just inside an alley ; a second noise 
from a carpenter shop. As if determined to be heard above 
everything else, from a second story comes a voice bawling 
out some kind of a declamation it is a rhetoric school get- 
ting into action, and an ambitious youth is denouncing the 
dead tyrant Phalaris at the top of his lungs. By yonder wall, 
almost completely blocking the sidewalk, a nondescript barber 
has set down a stool and is clipping a victim with huge scissors. 
Close by him stands a cook's boy guarding two braziers, on one 
of which are boiled peas, on the other small sausages that are 
kept smoking hot. Early as the hour may be, workmen and 
others who have an active day before them are standing around 
and laying in a hearty breakfast. Almost upsetting this throng 
comes a countryman flogging a donkey whose huge paniers 
laden with garden truck project dangerously to either side. 

24 A Day in Old Rome 

The noise increases continually. From another lane there 
comes more shouting. An auctioneer is knocking down the 
furniture of a poor bankrupt, and the bidding is growing 
violent. All the shopkeepers are bawling their wares to each 
prospective purchaser. Now there is a clang and jangling ; 
pushing the crowd aside march ten soldiers, five abreast, 
with insolent strides, their optio (sub-centurion) stalking be- 
fore them. Their gilded armor and helmets and the scar- 
let kilts peeping under their cuirasses, proclaim them to 
be " Praetorians," proud members of the imperial guard. 
Gilded shields clatter on their backs ; they warn the slaves 
and hucksters away with their spear butts while their officer's 
red plume nods arrogantly. 

Hardly are they gone before there comes the crash of some 
barbaric music; one hears castinets, trumpets, drums, and 
sistra (a kind of glorified bronze rattle), and unmelodious 
singing. Tossing their arms, waving blunted swords or 
pounding them on light shields, along comes a troupe of the 
priests and priestesses of Cybele, the uncouth Asiatic god- 
dess; the women, dark-skinned Syrians, whirling in wild 
dances with hair aflying, the priests puff -cheeked, smooth- 
faced creatures, busily pounding with their noise-making 
instruments. They are headed for their temple to spend a 
day of orgy. 

18. The Processions Attending Great Nobles. Suddenly 
there is a partial silence. Youths in livery are moving 
down the street flourishing white wands \ " Way, way for 
his Excellency ," they are shouting. Instantly the word 
flies around, " The Praetor Fundinus ! " Hucksters cease 
shouting. Everybody stands still and all who wear hoods or 
hats hastily bare their heads, l for the praetor represents 
" The Majesty of the Roman People." Behind his matorea 

1 If a magistrate had met any persons on horseback, they also would 
have been bound to dismount on meeting him. 

Streets and Street Life 25 

(" Way Clearers ") a full score of toga-clad clients swing into 
sight marching ahead of the great man. He rides in a blue 
tasseled litter borne by eight tall Cappadocians of equal 
height and pace. Just in front of them march two haughty 
lictors, attendants of honor, with bundles of rods, the official 
" fasces," conspicuously resting upon their shoulders. 1 
Close beside the litter walks a well-groomed man with a 
marked Greek profile the confidential freedman and man 
of business of the magistrate. Behind trail more clients and 
a greater retinue of slaves. Fundinus himself heeds little 
the incessant greetings cast at him. He can be seen lolling 
on his cushions, with the little curtains thrown back just 
enough to show the purple embroidery on his official toga. 
A book, half unrolled, is in his hand for it is the best of form 
to affect a certain bookishness in scenes of great distraction. 

As the praetor's train advances, however, it is met by 
another headed in the opposite direction. A great concourse 
appears of handsome slaves, all wearing brown coats and 
each bearing a box or package upon his shoulder ; then fol- 
lows a group of pretty Levantine slave-girls gaudily clad, 
then a brown Egyptian boy carrying a pet monkey; then 
a simpering Celtic maid with a large basket from which peers 
a small and very uneasy lap-dog ; next a perfect hedge of 
upper slaves and freedmen, some carrying musical instru- 
ments, some small caskets obviously crammed with valu- 
ables, and some conveying ostentatiously costly garments, 
and then borne high by her eight slaves in light red livery 
comes a great lady herself an ex-consul's wife, the multi- 
millionaire Faustina. 

19. A Great Lady Traveling. "Her Magnificence" 
(Clarissima) also leans back on her cushions with a studied 
attitude of indifference and boredom, letting the whole 

1 If a praetor had been acting as governor, he would probably have had 
six lictors instead of merely two while he was a judge in Rome. 

A Day in Old Rome 

street take in the silky sheen of her embroidered mantle, 
the gem-set handle of her ostrich fan, the gold dust that her 
maids have sprinkled on her tall pile of brown hair, and the 
great pearls that shed luster from her ears, neck, and every 
finger. She is merely making one of her incessant pilgrim- 
ages between her Viminal palace and some one of her ten 
country villas. She would feel disgraced to travel with less 
than about two hundred slaves and freedmen. Very likely 
her grandfather was a freedman himself ; what matter ? 
official rank yields to the conquering flash of gold. 

Fundinus's lictors lower their fasces ; his litter is set down 
hastily. As the trains meet the great man hastens to the 
side of the greater matrona. Faustina is evidently in a gra- 
cious mood. She is seen to flip the praetor's face daintily 
with her fan. The magistrate climbs back to his own litter 
smilingly perhaps he has been bidden to an ultra-select 
house party at Tusculum. The two trains of attendants 
elbow past each other, and the street resumes its plebeian 

20. Public Salutations: the Kissing Habit. As the 
crowds thin a little, so that the types and faces are more 
easily seen, several things become noticeable. First the salu- 
tations there are surely advantages in being borne high in 
a litter. No person in good clothes can proceed far without 
being incessantly beset with greetings. Everybody seems to 
know everybody else. It is polite to cry Ave ! (" Hail ") or 
Solve! (" I hope you're well ") to persons of the scantiest 
acquaintance, and then, when they return your salute, if 
there is nothing more to add, Vale! (" Good luck "). 

More serious, however, is the incessant kissing. A sedate 
old gentleman with a narrow purple stripe on his tunic (the 
token of the " equestrian " rank) appears followed by two 
spruce slave boys. A nondescript fellow immediately pushes 
up to him, seizes his hand, then smacks him roundly on the 

Streets and Street Life 27 

cheek. Doubtless the rascal's lips are foul and his breath 
charged with garlic; it is nevertheless most discourteous 
for the older man to resent it. There is no escaping the in- 
cessant attacks, unless you can have a litter, and the poet 
Martial has vainly complained of acquaintances who insisted 
on kissing him in December " when round his nose hangs a 
veritable icicle/' Even the Emperor has to submit to the 
usage, although the privilege is confined to that envied and 
exalted circle known as " Caesar's friends," 

21. The Swarms of Idlers and Parasites. Another thing 
becomes obvious after a short scrutiny the vast number qf 
idlers. People are incessantly lounging up and down the 
street manifestly with nothing important to do. Hard 
work and common trade are, as later explained (see p. 146), 
by no means genteel; and many a Roman who possesses 
merely a threadbare toga and has his name on the list for 
corn doles prefers living by his wits in busy idleness, fawning 
on the great, and hunting dinner invitations to doing a stroke 
of honest labor. 

Most of the idlers nevertheless are slaves. In the vast 
familia of the palaces the tasks are all so subdivided that the 
average slave has far too much time on his hands. He 
puts in many hours, therefore, wandering about the sights 
of the city, gaming, following coarse love affairs, and seeking 
tips on the circus and amphitheater contests. The amount 
of worthless chatter is infinite. Even at this early hour from 
the tables of a wine-shop comes the rattle of dice boxes. 
Another dirty group is actually throwing dice on the pave- 
ment under pedestrian's heels. The law nominally forbids 
open gaming, but the police are very busy men. Rome, one 
discovers thus promptly, is all too much a city of " parasites." 
By exploiting the world, she is able to maintain a horde of 
human bipeds, bond or free, who minister nothing to her 


A Day in Old Rome 

The gamesters on the pavement halt, however, instantly, 
when a tumult arises from a neighboring vintner's stall. 
A Spanish boy has tried to steal a jar of fine old Massic, 
but the vessel has been wisely fastened to a pillar with a 
chain. While he tugs to break this the dealer spots him : 
" Stop thief ! " rises the cry. Instantly appear two broad- 
shouldered men, in half armor with small steel caps. They 
carry stout poles tipped with strong hooks useful in fires. 

These are vigiles 
(police-firemen) of the 
city watch. The thief 
is seized and hustled 
off howling and pro- 
testing, to tell his trou- 
bles at the court of the 
City Praefect. Before 
the players can resume, 
they have to stand 
aside also for a funeral 
procession flute play- 
ers, professional 
mourners screaming 
and g^^ulating, man- 
umitted slaves of the 


deceased wearing liberty caps, mourning relatives around 
the bier; all headed for the cremation-pyre outside the 

22. Public Placards and Notices. Just as the dice are 
about to rattle again a shrewd-looking fellow with a piece of 
red chalk is seen stepping up to a space of blank wall. " Celer, 
the notice writer," whispers everybody. A large crowd 
elbows and gathers around him, as to general delight, with 
quick strokes he letters the following announcement of a 
gladiator fight : 

Streets and Street Life 29 


From the 12th to the 15th of May 




Who Has Fought Three Times Will Meet 




And The Same Number of Fights 



Who Has Fought Eight Times 




And of Fourteen Fights 

Awnings will be provided against the sun 

" Euge! Euge! Bravo, Balbus ! " cry the expectant idlers 
as they go back to their game, and Celer hurries off to repeat 
his notice on some wall in the next street. 

The dice contest can be omitted. Not so with the wall 
inscriptions which we now discover are scattered over almost 

30 A Day in Old Rome 

every space of available stucco along the thoroughfare. 
Some are formal notices of games, articles for sale, auctions, 
tenements to let, etc., written with some skill, although with 
many puzzling abbreviations, by professional sign-writers 
like Celer. Thus on one building can be read in tall red 
letters: " To rent, from the first of July, shops with the 
floors above them and a house in the Arrius Pollio block, owned 
by Nigidius Mains. Prospective lessees may apply to Primus 
his slave," and another sign advertises the " Venus baths, 
fitted up for the best people, shops, rooms over shops and second 
story apartments, in the property owned by Julia Felix" l 

23. Wall Scribblings. More interesting really are the 
wall scribblings of the humble. " The walls were the writing 
paper of the poor," will be declared later by students of 
Rome. All kinds of sentiments are scratched upon the 
stucco ; sometimes with considerable care with a stylus ; 
sometimes with merely a finger nail ; sometimes drawn with 
charcoal or a red crayon. There are indeed so many writings, 
especially in frequented places, that we notice a wag has ac- 
tually added a word of protest : 

I wonder wall, 
That your stones do not fall 
All scribbled thus o'er 
By the nonsense of all ! 

Every kind of opinion is to be found along a limited 
stretch of wall. Coarse insults abound where your enemy 
can promptly see them : " Vile wretch," " Bold rascal," 
" Old fool," " I hope you'll die ! " " May you be crucified ! " 
these are merely the mildest. Then other sentiments are 
more friendly : " Luck to you I " " Good health to you 
everywhere I " "A Happy New Year and a lot of them," 

1 The wall placards and inscriptions quoted in this and the following 
section are all substantially as found at Pompeii. 

Streets and Street Life 31 

and " What wouldn't I do for you, dear eyes of Luscus" 
(the names of the enemy or friend involved- being often 

Lovers also take up their tale. A girl records her frank 
opinion : " Virgula to her dear Tertius You are mighty 
mean." A penitent swain spreads forth this " personal " 
to his mistress : " Do have pity on me and let me come back.'* 
A young lady announces tartly : " Where Verus is there's 
nothing veracious" (a pun on words). A gay philanderer ex- 
plains, " A blonde girl taught me to hate brunettes, and I 
will hate them if I can but loving them would come, so 
much easier ! " And another youth demands passionately : 
" My dear Sava, please do love me ! " While finally a jeal- 
ous suitor has broken into verse : 

If any man shall seek 
My girl from me to turn, 
On far-off mountains bleak, 
May Love the scoundrel burn ! 

The prosing moralist must likewise have his say. Some- 
body has sagely scribbled, " A trifling ailment if neglected 
can grow to be very serious." There are in addition conun- 
drums and children's sketches pictures of playmates, 
friends, foes, and especially of popular gladiators, marked 
with red ochre or charcoal, and sometimes limned with con- 
siderable vigor, but usually in the manner of the childish 
drawings in all ages, with forehead and nose marked by 
a line and with two dots serving for eyes. School boys 
have scratched down some of the verses in Vergil and 
Ovid that have just been flogged into them by their 

The only thing we can miss in Rome are the election no- 
tices which would abound on the walls of all chartered pro- 
vincial or free Italian cities, entreating us to vote for so- 

32 A Day in Old Rome 

and-so for duumvir " he's a good man " ; or declaring that 

" all the fullers' guild are out for as aedile." 1 Rome, 

alas ! has lost her liberty ; the city is paternally governed 
by the Emperor aided by the Senate, and popular elections 
are a thing of the past. 

24. The Streets Dark and Dangerous at Night. One is 
warned, however, not to tax the patience of the adjacent 
shopkeepers and linger too long in this street. Written above 
a drug seller's stand appears clearly, " No idlers here! Move 
on you loungers! " and a little distance along upon a wall, 
"Here you! What are you loitering for ?" Indeed the pass- 
ing throngs are becoming somewhat monotonous. The hurly- 
burly abates. About noon almost everybody will take first 
a fairly hearty luncheon, and then a siesta. Nearly every 
shop will be closed. Then the bustle will be resumed while 
the more genteel element will be seen headed in great 
numbers towards the public baths. 

By four o'clock, however, the shops will be closing behind 
heavy shutters, the clamor from the work rooms will cease, 
and even the humble will begin to prepare for the crowning 
event of a Roman's day dinner, often begun still earlier. 
After sundown the silence almost of the grave shuts down 
upon avenues which a few hours earlier were simply swarming 
with life. There are no street lights. Nobody stirs out- 
doors if possible, unless accompanied by friends or slaves with 
lanterns or torches ; and it is no harm to carry heavy bludge- 
ons, for despite the watch there are all too many sneak thieves, 
cutpurses, and even open bandits, " dagger men " (siccarii), 
with their " your money or your life." Also lawless young 
nobles sometimes get an evil pleasure (as did Nero and his 
companions) by ranging the streets and beating up harmless 
and poorly guarded citizens. 

1 For quotations of election notices at Pompeii see the author's " Read- 
ings in Ancient History," Vol. II, "Rome," pp. 261-262. 

Streets and Street Life 33 

26. Discomforts of Life in Rome. People also tell you 
that at night there is no small peril of being brained by loose 
tiles which rattle down from the lofty house-tops, or less 
dangerous but most disgusting, of being drenched by buckets 
of filthy slops flung recklessly from upper windows into the 
streets. Then toward dawn your sleep is ruined by the 
incessant rumbling of the wagcns with timber, brick, building 
stone, cement, and all kinds of food supplies which have to be 
excluded from the city in the day hours. These are all part 
of the general discomforts of life in Rome, along with the 
squalid flat-buildings, the peril from the collapse of rickety 
houses, the occasional great floods of the Tiber, the fearful 
conflagrations, the ubiquitous throngs of people, and the 
grievous absence of privacy. 

The complaints are incessant. " School masters in the 
morning; corn grinders at night; and braziers' hammers 
day and night " are subjects for standard diatribes of poets 
like Martial and JuvenaL And they, like everybody, first 
praise the quiet simple life possible in the Italian country 
towns and then they remain in Rome. The great city 
with its multitudes, its ceaseless variety of all things good 
and bad, its appeal to every kind of human interest holds 
them with so many other mortals fascinated. They are 
unhappy while in Rome; but still more unhappy until 
they can return to her. 

So much for the merely outwqjd side of a typical street on 
the slopes of the Esquiline. We can now penetrate the homes 
of the people, first visiting an insula, a great tenement block 
of the lowly, and then investigating a more elegant domiw, 
the residence of a magnate. 


26. The Great Insulae Tenement Blocks. Per- 
haps another age will imagine that most Romans have lived 
in vast marble palaces, moving through spacious halls amid 
stately pillars and spraying fountains. Nothing like this 
is the case for the great majority. A census report declares 
" there are some 44,000 tenement blocks (insulce) in the 
city and only about 175*0 separate ' mansions ' (domus)" 1 
Such figures can merely imply that an overwhelming pro- 
portion of " the toga-wearing race, the Lords of the world " 
(to quote Virgil's threadbare line) are flat-dwellers. 

Considering the extreme congestion of population, no other 
solution than this is possible if Rome is to remain Rome. 
There is a great profit in building these huge, ungainly 
" islands," the tenement blocks. Everywhere around the city 
we meet the gangs of laborers mixing the concrete whereof 
the structures are mostly constructed, or setting the wooden 
molds to shape the material as it solidifies ; or else tearing 
down and carting away the wreckage of insulse that have 
begun to decay. Such property employs a great amount 
of capital. Nearly every senator has his men of business 
caring for his housing investments and rentals, and the 
" realtor " is a very familiar personage. 

Rightly is it complained also that many insulse are put 
up in a cheap and absolutely dangerous manner, and at 

1 These figures seem to come from the fourth century, but there is no 
reason to think that housing conditions in Rome had changed very 
much since the second century. 


Roman Homes 35 

best are dark, dirty, and unsanitary. The very name implies 
that they should be built with a free space all around them. 
The old law of Twelve Tables (450 B.C.) required a passage 
way (ambitus) of at least two and a half feet on either side, 
but this law was recklessly disregarded until the great fire 
of Nero enabled the government to enforce a fairly scientific 
building code. Even now, however, the tenement houses are 
often hemmed in on all sides by miserable black alleys hardly 
accessible to the public scavengers. 

This struggle to use every scrap of ground is completely 
matched by the effort to build as high as possible. " The 
immense size of Rome," wrote Vitruvius, about 1 A.D., 
" makes it needful to have a vast number of habitations, 
and as the area is not sufficient to contain them all on the 
ground floor, the nature of the case compels us to raise 
them in the air." 

There are no passenger elevators in Rome; furthermore, 
the concrete construction does not permit the safe erection 
of extremely high buildings without unusual precautions, 
and with such narrow streets tall structures obstruct both 
light and air ; nevertheless, the real estate interests grumbled 
loudly when Augustus limited the height of dwellings to 
seventy feet. Hadrian has just vexed them still more by a 
decree that if an owner allows his insula to fall into danger- 
ous repair, he must either sell it, or rebuild it thoroughly. 
For all that, many insulse seem to be towering rookeries, 
ready to collapse at any flood or earthquake. 

27. A Typical Insula. Upon Mercury Street, which we 
have just examined, stands a very average insula, built 
about forty years ago, and, therefore, loyally named the 
F lama Victoria for the then reigning dynasty. It belongs 
to the widow of the rich eques Gaius Macer, and is managed 
by the lynx-eyed procurator, or bailiff, who superintends 
her estate. Despite the fact that it is safer than some of 

A Day in Old Rome 

its neighbors, the tenants complain on rent days that the 
upper stories are built so largely of wood as to be in peril 
of fire, and that one of the outer walls is so cracked that it 
has to be propped up with heavy timbers. 

The Flavia Victoria is just under the legal building height, 
and contains five stories. On the street there are several 
shops of the usual kind, also several separate entrances 
whereof the doorways, flanked with pillars, give access to 
certain extra-select flats above ; but most of the tenants have 
to go in through the central portal under the eyes of a porter. 

Upon entering they find themselves in a f airly ample square 
court, upon which open many windows of the tiers of rooms in 
the upper stories. There is a fountain in the court, but the 
pavement below is decidedly slimy and dirty. Quantities 
of half-naked small children are scampering about in noisy 
play. The windows, however, like those facing upon the 
streets, often have balconies on which simple boxes of flowers 
are blooming. The blue Italian sky above and the bars 
of intense sunlight upon the flag-stones make the filthiness 
of the court and the dinginess of the yellow stuccoed walls 
less obnoxious/ Dirt and even the numerous fleas lose 
part of their terrors amid picturesque surroundings in a 
mild climate. 

28. The Flats in an Insula. From the courtyard several 
staircases, often dark and dank, rise to the tenements above. 
The Flama Victoria is a fair-sized insula, and just as in Euro- 
pean flat buildings later, can contain many social strata under 
one ample roof. In the apartments on the first floor, there 
are really comfortable suites, each with a series of rooms 
living room (atrium), dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and 
the like, chambers not large indeed, but sufficient for a modest 
household keeping perhaps ten slaves. The walls are 
covered with bright frescoes, and the floors with very fair 
mosaics. Such a superior apartment can bring some 10,000 

Roman Homes 37 

sesterces ($400) per year, and a good many flats rent for 
even more. 1 

The rentals fall rapidly as the tenants scale higher. In 
the second floor the apartments are much smaller ; there is 
merely a living room and a few smaller chambers. The 
appointments are correspondingly mean and dingy, while the 
annual rent is only 2000 sesterces ($80) ; and between the 
prosperous grain factor on the third floor and the hardwork- 
ing brickyard superintendent on the fourth there is never the 
least sociability. 

29. The Cheap Attic Tenements and Their Poor Occupants. 
Both unite, however, in despising the wretched creatures 
who plod wearily up to the dirty, vermin-infested sleeping 
pockets upon the fifth or sixth stages, where, under the roof 
tiles, the hot sun beats pitilessly. If we care to thrust our- 
selves into the tiny chambers of the unfortunate Codrus, 
the bath attendant, we will find, perhaps " a bed too small 
for the dwarf Procula, a marble slab whereon are set six small 
food jars and a small drinking cup, a statue of Chiron [some 
decaying heirloom], and an old chest of Greek books gnawed 
by the unlettered mice." 2 

Vainly do Codrus and his wife complain to the bailiff that 
the roof is collapsing over them. He merely laughs and bids 
them " sleep at ease," although a deadly crash is threatened 
any night. They have another peril, because fire may at 
any time break out in Ucalegon's flat below and leave them 
cut off, possibly while in their beds, and with no chance of 
escape after the alarm spreads. 

Such poor tenants never stay in one place long. Rome is 
a city of inveterate flat-hunters. The first of July (the 

1 Rentals in Rome, for all classes of lodgings, were unreasonably high, 
as compared with the relative cost of other necessities : just as is now 
complained to be the case in New York, Paris, and other great cities. 

1 A familiar description of such a place by Juvenal. 

A Day in Old Rome 

Calends) is the regular moving day. Every tenant who can- 
not or will not pay his rent, has to go forth seeking even 
cheaper and more squalid quarters. There are endless family 
processions bearing off the few poor chattels. The satirists 
make ungenerous fun of their plight, telling how a wretched 
man has to march away followed by " his carroty-headed 
wife, his white-haired mother and his giantess of a sister." 
Between them they carry off " a three-legged bed, a two- 
footed table, a lamp, a horn-cup, a rusty brazier, some cracked 
dishes, some jars of very stale pickled fish," also a supply of 


cheese and onions, and " a pot of resin belonging to the poor 
fellow's mother and used by the beldame for anointing her- 

Such luckless plebeians, of course, may delude some house 
agent in a distant part of the city into' giving them a dark 
garret in the vain hope that they can pay their rent ; " but 
really," says the bailiff with a shrug, " they belong at the 
Arieine bridge the haunt of the beggars." 

Unfortunately a large fraction of Rome is little better off 
than this. Poverty stalks everywhere. There are plenty 
of fetid insulse which do not contain a single family that 
can be sure of next week's dinners. Nevertheless there are 

Roman Homes 39 

mitigations; as will be seen, the government takes great 
pains that in Rome nobody will actually starve ; and again, 
there are so many free circuses and gladiatorial shows that a 
man has abundant diversion from his troubles. There is a 
magnificent water supply, and the kind Italian sun pre- 
vents heavy fuel bills. Poverty, therefore, does not imply 
the acute misery which it does in the North. 

Nevertheless, the most fortunate insula dweller probably 
dreams of the day when he can crown his inevitable ambition. 
" When can I cease to live in a cenacula (flat) and live in a 
domus?" 1 

30. A Senatorial " Mansion " (Domus). Publius Junius 
Calvus is a senator of ancient lineage, whose domus lifts itself 
arrogantly near the summit of the Esquiline, at the head of 
Mercury Street, looking down upon the tiles of the humble 
insula Flavia Victoria. 

Calvus, although a member of the upper aristocracy, is 
not extraordinarily wealthy. He does not, like some of his 
friends, possess simultaneously three large city houses, often 
moving from one to another according to season and mood. 
He has only four country villas, one far in the North by the 
Italian lakes, one in the Etruscan hills, one fairly close to 
Rome, and a fourth on the delightful Bay of Naples. His 
city residence is inferior in magnificence not merely to those 
of many senators but even of many equites (second-class 
nobles) and of a whole cohort of rich, upstart freedmen. 
Nevertheless, it is a fine mansion, which has been in the Cal- 
vian family for many generations, and it is crammed with 
treasured heirlooms. Calvus, unlike certain noble col- 

1 In small provincial cities like Pompeii the proportion of the people 
who could live in separate houses was much greater than in Rome ; in 
fact separate residences were somewhat the rule. The Pompeiian 
houses were usually of two stories and nearly all were decidedly small. 
In Rome itself real estate was far too valuable to permit separate houses 
except for the wealthy. 

40 A Day in Old Rome 

leagues, is happily married and rejoices in two half -grown sons 
and a daughter. For them a familia of only one hundred 
and fifty slaves suffices, although the noble Gratia sometimes 
complains to her husband : " Our staff is disgracefully small." 

The Calvi are really an extremely old family in what is 
now becoming a city of upstarts. Publius's forebears have 
lived for centuries on the Esquiline and their domus has been 
rebuilt many times. In Punic War days it probably consisted 
only of a central atrium, with an opening in the ceiling to 
admit light and emit smoke, and a few dark cell-like chambers 
radiating from the great living room. This hall rightly re- 
ceived its name of the " black place " (ater) from the soot 
from the open hearth which was perpetually caked around 
the rafters. The walls were of rubble, the floor of simple 
tiles or even merely of pounded earth, and the roof was of 
thatch. Such a house could stow away the many children 
and the relatively few servants of a senator who helped to 
humiliate Carthage. 

31. The Plan of a Large Residence. Very different is 
the domus now as we approach the lofty Ionic pillars before 
its portal, nevertheless, the plan of the old house has not quite 
vanished in the stately mansion. The Roman house is 
always (like the Greek) essentially the typical southern dwell- 
ing built around courts, and getting its light thence, and with 
little dependence upon exterior windows. What has hap- 
pened now is that the old living room has expanded into a 
magnificent light-bathed hall, with the sun streaming not 
through a smoke-hole but an ample opening. The rooms 
leading from this court have multiplied in number and vastly 
increased in size. Then through a series of passages one 
enters a second court even larger and handsomer, and 
with another array of dependent chambers. 

In such a house the main apartments are on the first floor, 
but there is a second story for the lodging of the retinues of 

Roman Homes 


slaves. In the rear of all there is usually a garden. Every 
domus has its own particular plan and pretentions but all 
conform to the general scheme of two main courts, just as 
almost every house of another civilization will demand its 
parlor and its dining room. 

Calvus's mansion is priced by the real estate experts at 
about 3,500,000 sesterces (say $140,000) j 1 but there are 

present condition. 

not a few houses of richer senators worth four times as much. 
The structure faces a street which is reasonably clear of shops 
and where all the neighbors are at least equites or else very 
wealthy freedmen. The building does not rise as high as 
an insula ; in fact it possesses only two stories : the first 

1 That was the price that Cicero paid for his town house, at a time 
when Roman real estate was worth probably much less than in the days 
of Hadrian. 

42 A Day in Old Rome 

broken by mere peepholes in the solid stuccoed walls, the 
second by larger windows all heavily grated. One can guess 
part of the reason for these bars from a placard hanging in 
the entrance : 


32. Entrance to the Residence. The entrance itself, how- 
ever, is handsome. The columns on either side are of fine 
Luna marble. Pass between these, and you enter a vestibule, 
a considerable outer chamber with fine pilasters let into the 
walls, where at this moment a swarm of the Senator's clients 
are mustering. Then you approach the actual doors of the 
ostium. These stand open but every passer is being scru- 
tinized, and if questionable, is stopped by a janitor, a highly 
responsible slave, who has a seat just inside. Many a janitor 
is supported in his duty by a surly dog, but here there is 
merely a life-like mosaic creature, wrought in the tiles of the 
pavement, with CAVE CANEM (" Beware the dog ") written 
beneath him. Overhead in a gilt cage however is swinging 
a tame magpie, and the creature croaks out his " Salve! 
Salve! " as the guests press into the atrium. 

33. The Atrium and the View across It. The moment 
we are inside the transformation of scene from the dusty, 
dingy street is startling. If other persons do not obstruct 
the view, you can see clear down the long vistas of the house 
from the entrance to the greenery of the garden. Before 
us is the atrium, a magnificent court, paved with elaborate 
mosaics, and with four elegant Corinthian columns in pink 
marble upholding the roof around a wide light- well. Under 
this light-well is a complicated fountain, where bronze tritons 

Roman Homes 


and dancing nymphs are shooting great jets into a white 
marble basin in which grow luxurious water plants. On 
the inner sides of the atrium, and on either of the numerous 
doors opening into the 
same, stand statues, 
bronze or marble, upon 
carved stone pedestals. 
Many of the door- 
ways around this ele- 
gant hall are closed by 
heavy curtains, of rich 
saffron, purple, olivine, 
or blue, the hues being 
selected to blend mar- 
velously with the tints 
of the columns. Where 
the walls are not a 
sheen of marble, they 
are spread with elab- 
orate and wonderfully 
decorative frescos of 
which more hereafter. 
On special pedestals of 
honor are fine art ob- 
jects, valuable bric-a- 
brac, tripods, vases, 
silver cups, war tro- 
phies. The mosaics on 



strictly conventionalized. 

the floor (could we stop 
to gaze) are more beau- 
tiful than any carpet. In brilliant jewel work, for it is little 
else, has been wrought out a series of pictures showing the 
campaigns of Alexander. There is another series giving the 
legend of Perseus. The sunlight, the spray from the foun- 


A Day in Old Rome 

tain, the sheen of the marbles, the brilliance of the frescos, 
all combine in an effect that is dazzling. 

34. The Rooms in the Rear and the Peristylium. But 
this hall is merely the beginning, not the end of the domus. 
In the rear of the atrium there is the master's office, the tab- 
linum, a very large alcove, a handsome apartment where he 

PERISTYLIUM : restored. 

will receive those guests who are come strictly on business. 
This and the atrium, however, are merely the public rooms of 
the house ; the real living rooms are beyond, although, by 
a survival of old custom, the symbolic marriage couch of the 
master and mistress stands on a back wall by the tablinum. 
The heavy curtains have been swept aside from the broad 
passageways (fauces) which lead into the second court 
the peristylium. 
Here the atrium is duplicated but on a much more elab- 

Roman Homes 


orate scale. There is another column-girdled court ; but the 
pillars are taller and of an exquisite blue-veined marble. 
A huge curtain swings on its cords ready for expansion as 
the sun grows hot. Beneath the light-opening, there is not 
merely a second fountain, but a real plat of greensward, a 
viridarium, with a bright bed of rare flowers and even a few 
tropical plants. There is another phalanx of statues. Under 


the long quadrangular colonnades around the court are 
spread out deeply upholstered couches, easy chairs, small 
tables, and other appurtenances for luxurious existence. 
The ceilings of the colonnades and of the rooms leading thence 
are covered with metallic fretwork gilded in a soft sheen, while 
the intense light filters down gratefully between the columns, 
and sinks to a pleasant twilight in the niches and nooks in the 
walls of the peristylium. 

35. The Dining Room (Triclinium) and the Chapel. 
From this second court to left and to right open doors which 


A Day in Old Rome 

lead to the master's and mistress's sleeping chambers, and 
those of their children, their guests, and their upper servants. 
The rooms are small, but are always daintily frescoed. 

Far more important than these chambers is the great 
dining room (triclinium). Calvus's friends tell him he really 
ought to rebuild his residence and provide a special " summer 
dining room " on the north side of the house, and a warmer 

present condition. 

" winter dining room " on the south side as in all the newer 
mansions. 1 However, his triclinium is very handsome ; with 
good pilasters of Hymettus marble, fine statuary, sideboards 
loaded with rare old plate, and a ceiling fretted with ivory 
and arranged so that it can be partly opened at the climax 
of a feast to drop garlands and to spray down unguents upon 
the guests. 

1 Petronius represents his rich upstart Trimalchio as having four 
ordinary dining rooms and also a special second story dining room. 

Roman Homes 47 

In the rear of the house there are also a smaller breakfast 
room, and a special hall (oecus) for the display of even addi- 
tional art objects, likewise a library, and a private bathroom, 
both to be described later ; while in the rear of the peristylium 
is one of the most important rooms assuredly in the entire 
mansion the kitchen (culind), where Gratia's proudest pos- 
session, a truly superior cook, prepares dinners that atone for 
the sorrowful fact that " we have only one dining room." 

Off the peristylium, too, one notes what amounts to a 
miniature chapel. Before a temple front composed of short 
columns mounted on a kind of table are set several little 
images of beautiful fairy-like creatures of both sexes. These 
are the family lares, the honored guardians of the old house of 
the Calvi. Once they stood in the atrium, but in later days 
although withdrawn to the more private peristylium, they 
have not ceased to be dear. Calvus discusses with his phi- 
losopher friends, " Are there really any gods ? " ; but he never 
fails to cast his incense night and morning upon the small 
gilt brazier which smokes before his family lares. In the 
kitchen, also, there is a second little niche and still other 
images of the lares, where they receive bits of food and in- 
nocent prayers from all the servants even more devotedly 
than from the lordly folk in the peristylium. 

36. The Garden and the Slaves' Quarters. Another 
passage beside the kitchen leads us into what can be just 
glimpsed as one enters the atrium the rear garden set in 
by high walls. Land is too valuable in Rome for Calvus to 
permit himself much more than a short graveled walk under a 
few fine old box trees, but by an intensive gardening that 
another age might style " Japanese " there is laid out a 
miniature brooklet, a cascade plunging into a little pool 
containing tame lampreys, and some small pines, which 
have been forced into the semblance of a tiny forest. A 
broad marble seat now strewn with cushions, a good statue 


A Day in Old Rome 

of a dancing Pan, the rushing music of the water, and the 
breeze rustling the foliage all these make the tumultuous, 
squalid street and the dirty garrets of the Flavia Victoria 
seem very far away. In reality they are barely a stone's 

throw down the hill. 
Where do Calvus's 
slaves keep themselves ? 
Undoubtedly in the 
very cramped barracks 
of the second story, a 
section of which looks 
down from an upper 
tier of columns above 
the court of the peri- 
stylium. Even lordly 
Romans spend little 
time in their chambers 
and need only small 
bedrooms. For the 
slaves there is ex- 
tremely little accommo- 
dation ; any kind of a 
sleeping pocket, very 
truly called a "cell" 
(cella) will answer, 
where a stool, a blanket, 
and a thin mat on the floor suffice for all save the upper 

Under the house there are ordinary cellars for the storage 
of provisions. Somewhere, too, is a strong room, with barred 
windows, and heavy door, and inside, fastened upon the floor, 
a set of stocks and manacles. Lucky is the day when, in a 
slave-familia of this size, this lockup has not at least one 
backsliding occupant, 


Roman Homes 49 

37. The Floors and Windows. Inquiring about certain 
details of such a mansion we discover that like most other 
Roman houses, it is built of concrete, faced with brick or 
coarse stone and stucco, and then with as many interior 
surfaces as possible, covered with slabs of marble or decora- 
tive frescos. The roof is of brick tiles ; the floors in the 
humbler chambers, where mosaic is unnecessary, are partly 
of concrete and partly of small pieces of stone and tile roughly 
fitted together and then pounded down by a rammer (pavi- 
mentum). Two or three rooms most used in winter have a 
special and very luxurious device part of their floors are 
made of hollow tile pipes, and through these hot air from a 
furnace can be forced to warm them precisely as is done at 
the baths. 1 

Little thus far has been said about the windows. These 
open mainly upon the courts, and they are so few that very 
many rooms, especially those used by the slaves, seem dis- 
agreeably dark, although in the long, hot season this draw- 
back somewhat vanishes. Most of the windows are closed 
merely by board shutters swinging in leaves, and rather 
handsomely paneled ; but shutting them results in a state of 
artificial night. 

For certain rooms used by the master and mistress there is 
a much better arrangement. Numbers of small pieces of 
glass are set in bronze lattices and inserted in the windows. 
Glass cannot be made that is strictly transparent, but it is 
highly translucent. Such rooms are delightfully illuminated 
all day long. Certain other wealthy houses use windows 
set with translucent talc (soft magnesium silicate), but these 
openings are hardly as satisfactory. Glass is slowly coming 

1 This heating by hypocausts was used much more in Roman villas 
in Gaul, the Rhinelands, and Britain, where winters were severe, than in 
Italy. In Rome itself people ordinarily managed to shiver through the rel- 
atively short cold spells by means of portable charcoal braziers, placed in 
the more important rooms, and by piling upon themselves extra tunics. 

50 A Day in Old Rome 

into general use, and the window panes will improve as glass- 
makers learn how to blow larger sheets and to make their 
product more transparent. 

38. Frescos, Beautiful and Innumerable. From the 
house itself we can turn to its ornamentation and furniture. 
The use of marble columns and of great slabs of marble 
veneer has been repeatedly mentioned. Africa, Egypt, and 
Greece as well as Italy have been ransacked by Roman con- 
tractors for their treasures of stone. 1 Even this private man- 
sion of the Calvi boasts its green and black monolithic pillars, 
as well as its ceiling of gilded fretwork. 

Where the sheen of polished marble does not meet the eye 
almost invariably there are bright fre.scos. These are the 
Roman wall paper. Even in the poorest insulse we have met 
them, cheap hackneyed things, garish in color, the work not 
of artists but of common craftsmen. Yet most of even these 
are not without a certain decorative beauty and their number 
is enormous. 2 In the humble tenements the pictures often 
consist of pillars painted upon the walls, with gardens and 
landscapes represented as if seen between the portico, so the 
lodgers may have the pretence of looking upon the greenery 
reserved for the mighty. 

In a fine domus, however, the frescos, infinite in number, 
often approximate real works of art. There is no time to dis- 
cuss their types and history ; it is sufficient to say the deco- 
rative effect is amazingly effective. Some rooms have their 
walls covered with a variety of bright conceits and patterns, 

1 One can make a long list of the marbles constantly used at Rome : 
e.g. white marbles from Carrara, Paros, and Pentelicos ; crimson- 
streaked from Phrygia ; orange-golden from Numidia ; white and pale 
green from Carystos ; serpentine from Laconia ; porphyry from Egypt, 

2 At this writing the number of wall paintings rescued from the exca- 
vations of Pompeii runs well up to 4000 ; and Pompeii was a city per- 
haps only a fortieth the size of Rome. 

Roman Homes 51 

balconies, perches, tapestries of fruit and flowers, garlanded 
columns and flying sprites and maidens. Another room has 
pictures of all the possible handicrafts and trades ; but with 
cupids working the forges and wine presses, or chaffering as 
merchants. Gratia's boudoir is full of amorous scenes of 
brides adorning themselves and of lovers ' meetings. In the 
triclinium there are elegant pictures of still life fishes, fruit, 
birds ; and in the peristylium and atrium are elaborate land- 
scapes, scenes from Greek mythology, and a series of pictures 
depicting the voyages and adventures of JEneas. 1 There 
are no picture frames, but a skilful use of colored lines and 
sometimes of a painted setting of columns and architectural 
pediments makes each scene stand out to great advantage. 

The colors of all these frescos are very brilliant but they 
are never painfully crude. Where the walls are not cov- 
ered by painting or marble they are tinted a soft brown or 
gray ; and where the columns are not of naturally shaded 
marble they also are gently tinted to a neutral tone, although 
the lower third is usually painted a bright red or yellow. 

The numerous statues about the house are all in their turn 
given a kind of flesh color, with some other hue laid upon 
their drapery. Perhaps in the open, under the light of a 
northern summer these features would appear barbaric and 
offensive ; under the gentle radiance diffused from the aper- 
tures of the atrium and the peristylium they create a scene 
of marvelous beauty, fascinating, and generally restful to 
the eye. 

39. The Profusion of Statues and Art Objects. So much 
for the wall decorations, and we must turn to the statues. 
The mansion seems to swarm with slaves, yet they are hardly 
more numerous than the sculptures in bronze and marble. 

1 Most of the finer scenes in Roman frescos seem to have been pretty 
good copies of famous paintings from Greek mythology originally pro- 
duced by the masters of the Hellenistic age. 

A Day in Old Rome 

Many of these are good copies of the best masterpieces of 
Greece. The splendid athlete in the atrium is from an orig- 
inal by Praxiteles ; the Penelope in the peristylium follows 
precisely the noble work of Scopas. Many others are simply 
graceful and ornamental but less pretentious works by lesser 
geniuses, often adapted in detail by the clever copyists. 

The whole quantity of art 
objects in such a house is 
enormous. The legs and 
arms of the chairs and every 
knob and handle upon the 
furniture are chased or 
carved with an amazing 
skill. The veriest knick- 
nacks and articles for every- 
day life have been trans- 
formed into things of beauty. 
In the triclinium is a long 
series of statuettes present- 
ing the myths of Bacchus 
the god himself, the drunken 
Silenus, the satyrs, bac- 
chants, and all the other 
revelers. It would be easy, 
indeed, to reconstruct a good 
part of the standard Grseco-Roman mythology from the 
statues, statuettes, and reliefs, no less than from the frescos 
scattered about the mansion and garden. 

40. Family Portrait Busts. However, there is one 
lengthy array of sculptures in the atrium that does not bear 
the hand of Greece. These are the portrait busts of the 
Junii Calvi. There they stand, a full score of them; all 
the more distinguished members of the great house since 
sculpture became a facile art in Rome. 


Roman Homes 


It is an array of cold, hard, yet withal terribly efficient 
faces. Slightly battered is the broad homely countenance 
of that tough old Calvus who was Scipio's legate at Zama. 
Here also is the sharp shrewd face of his great-grandson who 
was praetor under gulla ; here the more refined and intellec- 
tual lines of the grandson of the last named worthy who won 
Octavius's thanks at Actium for gallantry with his bireme, 
and afterward was a famous 
governor of Syria ; here the 
high forehead of that coura- 
geous Stoic, the present 
master's grandfather, who 
bade Nero do his worst, and 
who calmly " opened his 
veins " when the centurion 
arrived with the tyrant's 
order to commit suicide. 
There are also displayed 
the busts of several dis- 
tinguished women of the 
family including that Junia 
who was the bosom friend 
of the Empress Livia. 

In addition to these, there 
are the portrait busts of the present Publius Calvus, of his 
wife Gratia, and of his three children. They are all executed 
with remarkable verisimilitude and without the least flattery. 
Customs with the hair often change, and the headdress of 
Gratia is made detachable so that if her style of headdress 
alters, the portrait may be promptly brought up tQ date. 
Young Sextus the second boy had a birthday yesterday ; his 
statue is still hung with wreaths ; flowers too hang around 
the likeness of Gnaeus Calvus, Publius's brother, who lately 
died while propraetor of Bsetica (South Spain). 


54 A Day in Old Rome 

41. Death Masks (Imagines). The sight of these busts 
is a constant incentive to both the young Calvi to remember 
their lordly lineage ; but they have a still prouder treasure. 
The enormously rich freedman Vedius just down the street 
would give twenty million sesterces for the social preeminence 
implied by the possession of the great cupboard all bound with 
gilt and bronze bands which stands in the tablinum. Here, 
carefully labeled, are kept several scores of waxen death 
masks, blackened, marred, and ugly enough now, but all 
taken when the successive heads of the family lay in their 
last slumber. 

Many of these date from before the production in Rome of 
sculptured portrait statues. Here, for example, is the mask 
of the Calvus who helped win the consulship for the plebeians ; 
and here of him who seconded Appius Claudius in the Senate 
when he turned away the glozing envoys of Pyrrhus. When 
alien upstarts complain of " noble pride," it is easy for a Calvus 
to toss his head : " Have we not something to be proud of ! " 
and later, it will be duly explained how these waxen imagines 
appear very conspicuously at public funerals (p, 175). 

42. Couches, Their General Use. One cannot, however, 
sit or lie down upon statues or portrait busts, and the domus 
is well provided with conventional furniture. In general the 
Romans prefer to recline when men of a later age may prefer 
to sit. Visitors sprawl down on couches for a little conversa- 
tion, and the regular method of writing is not at a desk but 
lying on a couch with the right leg doubled and the tablet 
held on the knee. Long habit makes this attitude quite 

There are many special kinds of beds for reading, dining, 
and for sleeping. Of course the latter are the most elaborate, 
and in Calvus's and Gratia' s chamber the wooden bed is so 
high that it has to be reached by a footstool. The legs are 
of bronze, elaborately turned and carved, the frame is ve- 

Roman Homes 


neered with tortoise shell and the supports at the sides of the 
sloping pillow-rest are set with plates of silver. As for the 
thick mattresses they are of the finest down and the ample 
blankets are dyed purple and embroidered with gold thread. 
The couches in the triclinium are lighter and lower although 
of very fine cabinet work, 1 but they have to be made larger 

ROMAN LAMPS : collection in Naples Museum. 

for they must accommodate three diners. The reading 
couches (lectuli " little beds ") are still lighter and simpler, 
although of elegant design, and those scattered under the 
peristylium are overlaid with plates of gold leaf. 

43. Elegant Chairs and Costly Tables. Excluding the 
couches the furnishings of a Roman domus seem much simpler 

1 It may be noted that the Romans seldom had built-in upholstery 
upon their couches and chairs. They depended upon removable cush- 
ions and apparently they had no metal springs. 


A Day in Old Rome 

than those used in a later age. There are few carpets, no 
great loss in view of the beautiful mosaic floors, although 
there are rich, heavy portieres across many passages. The 
chairs, frequently of light and elegant workmanship, are as 
a rule simple and often backless. Some, however, are splen- 
didly inlaid with silver, and there are a few great cathedra, 

ponderous arm chairs with lofty 

In the atrium, moreover, there 
stands an object surveyed with 
great pride by Calvus's children 
their father's sella curulis, the 
folding, backless arm chair^with a 
seat of leather straps which the 
senator had occupied while prae- 
tor. Presently (they hope) he 
will sit again thereon before the 
admiring Senate house, this time 
presiding as the veritable consul. 
The " curule chair," despite its 
gold and ivory arms and cushions 
covered with purple Alexandrian 
fabrics, is anything but a com- 
fortable seat through a tedious 
official ceremony ; but who 
thinks of personal comfort when reckoning the glories of its 
public occupancy ! 

Besides the chairs there are everywhere the tables. These 
are numerous but low and small. In the dining room they are 
round and barely two feet in diameter ; but what a wealth 
of art and taste has gone into their making! All are of 
extremely fine wood, but the three reserved for the regular 
couches of the dinner guests have their legs overlaid with 
plates of magnificently embossed gold, and the material 


Roman Homes 57 

upon the tops is composed of single thin slabs cross-sawn 
from the trunks of the great citrus trees (a form of cypress) 
on Mount Atlas. 

This wood can be finished to show an exquisite wavy pat- 
tern or curly veins " tiger citrus," " panther citrus/' or 
" peacock-tail citrus " the experts call the varieties. 
Over really fine specimens true connoisseurs go into ecstasies, 
and fortunes can be wasted. A table somewhat larger than 
Calvus's has been known to sell for 500,000 sesterces ($20,000) ; 
and there is a record price of twice that figure. The tables 
in the present mansion are nowhere nearly so valuable ; yet 
they are among the most precious objects in the house. If 
there is a fire, they will be rescued almost before anything 
else, always barring the waxen imagines. 

44. Chests, Cabinets, Water Clocks, and Curios. Of 
course there are many other articles of furniture like the 
great area, the masters strong box in the tablinum ; heavily 
locked and riveted down upon the stone beneath. There 
are the elegant tall candelabra, of bronze or even of silver, 
elaborately ornamented and swinging at night with such bat- 
teries of olive-oil lamps as to make the marbles, frescos, and 
mosaics give back an alluring glitter. There is the water 
clock in the peristylium, a kind of glorified hour-glass, so 
adjusted as to record small fractions of time, and beside 
which a special slave usually stands all day long to call off 
the passage of each hour to the family. There are great 
cabinets, chests, and cupboards full of plate, fine blankets, and 
extremely elaborate wardrobes. 

In addition to all these upon a kind of sideboard there 
stand forth real or alleged objects of value or antiquity, a 
silver cup taken at the capture of Syracuse ; a tall black and 
red vase signed by the master potter Callisthenes ; and a 
statuette of a dancing girl which is probably a true work of 
Lysippus. Conspicuous, too, is a silver bowl, battered and 

58 A Day in Old Rome 

discolored, and of extreme simplicity. Mock it not, however, 
it is " the ancestral salt cellar " (as remarks Horace), the 
one silver dish possessed by the good old Calvi, when in all 
the Roman Senate there was only a single complete silver 
dinner service to be exchanged from house to house when 
high officials entertained ambassadors. 

45. Spurious Antiques. Publius Calvus is happy in pos- 
sessing undeniably genuine antiques. He can afford to 
laugh at the collection of the rich freedman across the way. 
That poor fellow, anxious to " keep in style " and to display 
an art collection, has fallen into the clutches of unscrupulous 
dealers. He has filled his atrium with absurd specimens 
such as " cups from the table of Laomedon, a double vase 
that belonged to Nestor and a tankard used by Achilles/' 
His citrus tables are of very thin veneer, and in his atrium 
his impossible wife has actually on display a ponderous 
golden box in which her husband's first beard is deposited. 
It is also gossiped about that this crude fellow actually pre- 
tended sickness lately, merely that he might receive con- 
doling friends in bed and display to them the gold chasings 
on the bedstead, the magnificent scarlet coverlets, and pro- 
claim his riches by having the mattress steeped in expensive 

46. Pet Animals. One thing more must be stated about 
the house of the Calvi before passing to its human denizens. 
There are a great many tame animals in evidence. Over the 
doorway one already notes the caged magpie. From a dark 
corner within a large cage blinks a morose-looking owl. 
The master's fine greyhound has a litter of puppies which 
are now scrambling around the peristylium with a special 
slave to look after them. Behind a column is seen gliding a 
slinky civet. The children delight in a small monkey teth- 
ered now in the garden. Gratia especially has her own be- 

Roman Homes 59 

loved lap dog and its personal slave-boy custodian. She 
does not, however, imitate a certain female friend who 
dotes upon snakes, and who has a whole cage of the crea- 
tures which she often twines about her neck to scare her 

So much for the material aspects of a Roman insula and a 
Roman domus. It is time to examine their inhabitants. 


47. Honorable Status of Roman Women. Calvus is the 
lordly senator when his litter swings him down to the Curia 
by the Old Forum to participate in what is still the most 
venerable council in the world, but in his own house his 
authority is divided. He is not even sure that one-half the 
power is really his. In all private matters his sway is shared 
by his spouse Gratia. 

Many are the evils inflicting Imperial Rome, but oppres- 
sion of women is not one of them. By the age of Hadrian 
it has long since come to pass what Cato the Elder sadly pre- 
dicted three centuries earlier, when Roman women were learn- 
ing the way to freedom : " On the day that women are our 
equals, they will be our masters." 

Roman women are, indeed, excluded from seats in the 
Senate and from the long-defunct right to vote in the public 
assemblies. 1 They cannot command armies nor receive gov- 
ernorships, although every now and then an angry senator 
vainly proposes a resolution that governors shall not take their 
wives along with them to their provinces, lest the latter con- 
stitute themselves the real rulers of the district. Women do 
not act as judges or jurors. Nay more: legally they are 
under legal disabilities calculated to stir the rage of their 
" equal suffrage " sisters of a later day. They have always 
the status of minors, and are subject to the legal control of 
either father, guardian, or husband to their dying hour. 

1 It had been suppressed for all practical purposes soon after 14 A. D. 


Roman Women and Roman Marriages 61 

All this is true, yet, what of it ? The jurists have long ago 
devised fictions of the law whereby the women have practi- 
cally as complete control of their property as have their 
brothers ; and the government of the Empire is peculiarly a 
government of backstairs intrigues and of secret influence. 
What chance have mere men against women in such warfare ? 
Custom also assigns to women an amount of freedom in most 
social matters which makes Imperial Rome a feminine paradise 
that can only be matched by Twentieth Century America. 

48. Men Reluctant to Marry. Long since leaders of the 
bolder sex have had to reason with their fellow citizens on the 
necessity of marriage as a patriotic duty. The pragmatic 
old censor Quintus Metellus in 102 B.C. delivered a kind of a 
lay sermon : " If we could get along without wives, fellow 
citizens (Quirites) we should all spare ourselves the tedium of 
marriage, but nature has ordained that we can neither live 
pleasantly with wives, nor exist at all without them there- 
fore let us sacrifice our personal interests to those of society." 
After him Emperor Augustus enacted stiff laws to decrease 
the alarming number of bachelors, and to give special privi- 
leges to the parents of three children. This does not prevent 
many prominent Romans from looking upon a wife as a kind 
of expensive bondage often to be shunned altogether. 

49. Rights and Privileges of Married Women. The 
great majority of all Romans are married. Even the slaves 
are allowed to join in a kind of unofficial wedlock known as 
contubernium, which only a very harsh master will dissolve. 
As for the free 1 married women they go everywhere and do 
almost everything. No husband's permission is needed when 
they visit the Forum or theater. They can sue and be sued 
or give testimony in the courts without his intervention. 
They manage their own property. Gratia, for example, is 
well off in her own right. Her estates are in charge of a dap- 

A Day in Old Rome 

per young freedman Ephorus, who is incessantly visiting her, 
and who never dreams of taking orders from her husband. 
So long as Gratia is barely faithful to Calvus he has no right 
to complain. He thanks his " Good Genius/' therefore, that 

things are not as in his friend 
Probus's house, where the 
mistress's factotum is sus- 
pected of being on altogether 
too familiar terms with his 
fair employer. 

Nevertheless, this freedom 
is supposed to carry with it 
corresponding responsibili- 
ties. Every Roman woman 
theoretically is responsible 
for her husband's good name 
and for the wise ordering of 
his family. No right-minded 
woman dismisses the hope 
that at the end they will put 
the great words on her tomb- 
stone : " She counselled well. 
She managed well. She spun 

The control of the vast 
familia of slaves is usually in 
a matron's hands, a duty cal- 
culated to bring out every executive quality within her. She 
largely conducts the education of her sons, no less than of her 
daughters. No Roman is ashamed to admit (as an Athenian 
in Pericles's day might have been ashamed) that in the great 
crises of life he took the authoritative advice of his mother. 1 


1 Witness, as moat famous example, the case of Cornelia, mother of 
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Very many other instances could be cited. 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 63 

Roman civilization is, therefore, for better or worse, a civili- 
zation to which women no less than men have been suffered 
to apply the full powers of their genius. It is a " hundred 
per cent civilization " ; whereas, that of Athens, considering 
the manner in which Athenian women were confined and 
ignored, was hardly more than a "fifty per cent civili- 

50. Selection of Husbands for Young Girls. It is a fact, 
however, that in one great and vital matter Roman women are 
not free agents. They usually have their husbands, at least 
their first husbands, chosen for them by their parents. 
This comes to pass largely because usage requires that girls 
should be married so young that no rational romance on their 
part is really possible. 

Custom amounting to law requires that a girl shall be at 
least twelve, and a boy fourteen before marriage. In the case 
of girls this minimum is often adhered to pretty closely, but 
betrothals can be arranged still earlier. Cicero's daughter 
Tullia was betrothed at ten and married at thirteen a 
very common arrangement. Nobody imagined she had the 
least right to complain. Marriage involves a great shift in 
family relations, and the control of the family pertains 
strictly to the pater familias and to his matrona. They will 
ordinarily exercise loving pains in selecting a suitable spouse 
for a daughter, but the decision must be very largely 

Boys as a rule marry much later, often not until well into 
manhood. They can demand inevitably a certain right of 
choice, although the parents still exercise a marked authority. 
As for bachelors, if they indulge in various coarse " affairs " 
with dancing girls, only very peevish persons are critical. 
After marriage, however, they must treat their wives with 
reasonable outward respect, if by no means always with aus- 
tere faithfulness. In any case a girl is likely to be married off 

64 A Day in Old Rome 

too young either to resist her parents' choice or to pick out 
intelligently any proper husband for herself. 1 

51. A Marriage Treaty among Noble-Folk. When 
Gratia's parents decided she was old enough to " become 
settled" they applied to a distinguished kinsman, an ex- 
consul, to help them to find a suitable bridegroom. This 
noble gentleman looked over a list of his younger friends, 
selected Calvus, and wrote a careful letter commending him, 
praising his lineage, and his firm hopes of official distinction, 
and telling how " he had a frank, open countenance, fresh 
colored and blooming and a handsome well-knit figure " ; in 
short " he was quite the fellow to deserve so fine a girl." The 
great man went on to add that the favored candidate had a 
respectable fortune, for " though I dislike to speak of the 
financial aspects of the matter, still one must consider the 
tendencies of the day." Not one word was said as to how 
Gratia herself might want to be consulted ; her consent was 
taken for granted. 2 

Gratia's parents, therefore, approached Calvus's guardian, 
his uncle. He being satisfied as to dowry and social adjust- 
ments, both young people were informed of what had been 
determined for them. Gratia and Calvus alike had always 
expected some such arrangement and capitulated with reason- 
able grace. The ensuing marriage, founded not on any ro- 

1 Headers of Plutarch will recall the story of how Appius Claudius, 
then "Princeps Senatus," proposed to Tiberius Gracchus at an evening 
banquet of the College of Augurs that he should marry Claudius's 
daughter. Young Gracchus promptly accepted and the older nobleman 
rushed home in delight (Tiberius being a great "catch"). On entering 
his house Claudius called out with loud voice to his wife "Antistia, I've 
got a husband for Claudia !" "What's all the hurry about," answered 
she, "unless he's Tiberius Gracchus?" Antistia evidently had to be 
informed first ; the glad news could be broken to her daughter later. 

J This anecdote and the quotations are all from the letter of Pliny the 
Younger to his friend Mauricius advising the latter (as per request for 
counsel) to seek the hand of Minucius Ancilianus for his niece. 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 65 

mance, but on a cold-blooded study of what supposedly made 
for domestic happiness, in this case at least has been fortunate 
and fruitful. The wedded pair have come truly to love one 
another, and they dwell in great harmony. In this general 
manner marriages are arranged every day in Rome. 

Of course these are first marriages. Let Gratia become a 
widow, or let her imitate so many of her friends and divorce 
her husband, and her second spouse will ordinarily be of quite 
her own choosing ; and Calvus, of course, in selecting again, 
would be completely his own master. 

62. A Betrothal in Wealthy Circles. Gratia's daughter 
Junia is only ten, yet her parents are already beginning 
to think about betrothals ; but only a block up the street 
there has just been the excitement of an actual wedding. 
Aulus Statilius Pomponius is only an eques, but the gods have 
blessed him with a hundred million sesterces ($4,000,000). 
He and his wife have a daughter who will inherit vast posses- 
sions, and wealth is a splendid substitute for lineage. They 
have found a young Gaius Ulpius Pollio, already in the 
Senate, who claims a distant cousinship to the Emperor 
himself. Pollio is none too wealthy and is already a widower, 
but Statilia and her mother are infinitely delighted at an 
alliance with the edges of an imperial house. Nothing has 
lacked, therefore, for an ultra-fashionable wedding, the talk 
of the entire capital. 

First came the betrothal, a great social concourse in Pom- 
ponius's atrium, a throng of equites and senators with their 
wives, jewels flashing, countless tongues gossiping, with 
Statilia led in by her father to the center of the circle to meet 
the bridegroom-to-be. Statilia said not a word through the 
entire proceedings. All Pollio's dealings were with her father, 
and in clear voice the two men exchanged the legal formulas : 
" Do you promise to give your daughter, Statilia to me, to be 
my wedded wife?" said the younger man. 

66 A Day in Old Rome 

" The gods bring luck ! I betroth her." 

" The gods bring luck I" 

After that technically Statilia became a bride-elect ; she 
was a spousa. Either side had legally the right still to break 
the agreement, but it was socially ruinous to do so. Pollio 
presented Statilia with various valuable toilet articles, and 
especially with a ring to be worn on the third finger of the 
left hand, because everybody said that " a nerve ran directly 
from this particular finger to the heart/' It was the engage- 
ment ring of a later age almost precisely. 

53. Adjusting the Dowry. Then followed weeks of 
frantic preparation: the women busy with the things which 
always have made women busy over weddings long before 
the days of Romulus and Remus ; Pomponius and Pollio 
with wrestling over the very nice legal adjustments of Sta- 
tilia's dowry. How much would the old eques give in all, 
in cash, land, and banker's securities? How much for his 
daughter's special use ? How much as dos, the funds which 
the new son-in-law could touch? How could the property 
be arranged so that if the marriage ended presently in a 
divorce (as spiteful wagers were already being laid that it 
might) the dos could be given back to Statilia without griev- 
ous loss of principal ? 

At one time the betrothal almost had to be cancelled, such 
extreme shrewdness was shown on both sides. But finally 
the matter was adjusted. Three noble friends for either 
side pressed their seal rings in witness to the contracts. The 
day came for the wedding. 

64. Dressing the Bride. Family exigencies required a 
springtime wedding, when there were a great many unlucky 
days to be avoided; but an expert Etruscan haruspex at 
length found a day that satisfied Statilia and her parents' 
scruples. On the night before the great event she laid all 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 67 

her playthings, her childish amulet (build), and her childish 
garments on the altar of the paternal Lares whose protection 
she was quitting forever. Then she went to bed in a tunica 
recta, a fine, yellow garment woven in one piece, supposedly 
an article of extremely good omen. 

The next day the bride was dressed personally by her 
mother with unusual care. However expensive her orna- 
ments she had to wear this same one-piece tunic next to her 
skin, the gown being held around the waist by a band of wool 
tied with a complicated " knot of Hercules." She wore, 
of course, all the jewels loaded upon neck, ears, arms, and 
fingers which by the contract she was to bring Pollio in 
her trousseau. Her long hair had been parted according 
to ancient custom by a spear into six locks, braided now 
with ribbons weighted down with pearls. Her shoes were 
of finest white leather covered with more pearls. Over her 
head streamed a long, gauzy flame-colored veil of silk 
worth very literally more than its weight in gold. 1 Pressing 
down this bridal veil was a garland of flowers picked, as 
custom required, by the bride's own hand, and interspersed 
with sprigs of the sacred " verbena " herbs. Pollio, when he 
presented himself, was in the best gala costume of a senator, 
but there were no special " wedding garments " for the bride- 
groom, corresponding to the bridal veil. 

66. The Marriage Ceremonies. The afternoon was at 
hand, and the insulae in neighboring quarters emptied their 
plebeian throngs to gaze at the gilded litters which went 
swinging up to the house of Pomponius, the armies of scarlet- 
clad running footmen, the pompous freedmen marching 
beside their patron's sedans, the bravery of purple robes, 
the flash of gold and of jewels. Of course, the atrium had 

1 All silk was imported by extremely long caravan routes from China. 
If this veil was actually of pure silk and not mixed with cotton, it was of 
enormous value. 

68 A Day in Old Rome 

been hung with garlands. The air inside was heavy with the 
perfumes of flowers, of costly unguents, and of the finest 
Arabian incense, while the noble guests elbowed and pushed 
one another to get near the altar near the tablinum and win 
the best sight of the happy pair. 

Roman marriages are pretty strictly civil ceremonies. 
There is no legal requirement for any religious rites. Hardly 
anybody now is married according to the stale old formula of 
the confarreatio, when the betrothed couple became wedded 
by eating a cake which had just been consecrated by the 
Pontifex Maximus. A much simpler form is now used, but 
before the ceremony there always has to be the sacrifice. 

Amid a decently pious hush a sheep is led to the side of the 
water tank (impluwum) in the atrium ; the shrewd-eyed old 
haruspex, trailing his long robe and muttering jargon that 
passes for Etruscan, is aided by two skillful assistants in 
killing the creature promptly and avoiding disgusting gore ; 
then in ripping open its belly and examining with expert eye 
the still quivering entrails. (See p. 429.) It is proper now 
for Statilia to turn pale and clutch the arm of her mother. 
What if the signs were unfavorable? " Whoever heard of 
bad omens being discovered at a great wedding?" cynically 
whispers a senator. " Bene good 1 " announces the haru- 
spex with a leer. " Bene! Bene!" echo all the guests. 
The soothsayer retires. The wedding can proceed. 

The final ceremony is very simple. First the tablets of 
the marriage contract and the transfer of the dowry are pro- 
duced, read, and, if not already witnessed, are signed by the 
proper attestors. Then a young matron-of-honor, StatihVs 
pronuba, leads the bride up to Pollio. She thrusts out her 
hand from under her great veil and takes the hand of her 
husband-elect. Everybody listens while he, and not any 
priest or official for him, puts the direct question : " WilJ you 
be my mater familias f " " Yes/' answers Statilia, perhaps 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 69 

a little too readily; and then she asks him openly: 
" And will you be my pater familias ? " " Yes," aixd immedi- 
ately there is a general shout of congratulation. 

These decisive words once spoken, Pollio, his bride, and her 
parents unite in placing a cake of coarse bread upon the altar, 
uttering brief dedications of the food to Jupiter and Juno, and 
also to the quaint rural gods Tellus, Picumnus, and Pilum- 
nus who will bless the estates of the new couple. The cakes 
are presented in a basket held by a young boy, Statilia's 
cousin, her camillus, both of whose parents are required to 
be living. The company now redoubles its cry of " Good 
luck ! Good luck ! felicitas! " and everybody is assuredly 
in excellent appetite for the ensuing wedding feast. 

56. The Wedding Procession. This is not the place for 
describing a great banquet (see p. 113) ; it is enough here to 
state that Pomponius is obliged to justify his wealth by a 
prodigal hospitality. Vain has proved Augustus's law 
limiting the cost of wedding feasts to one thousand sesterces 
($40). Such regulations win only laughter ! 

As the climax after the dainties comes the distribution of 
pieces of the huge wedding-cake (mustaceum), made of fine 
meal steeped in new wine and served upon bay leaves. By 
this time everybody has drunk enough good Massic and Faler- 
nian to be excited and talkative, it has become twilight in the 
street, and Pomponius's chief freedman (the master of cere- 
monies) gives the signal : " The procession !" 

In the vestibule musters a squad of flute players and torch 
bearers. As the music strikes up, good form requires Sta- 
tilia to cast herself into her mother's arms and weep and 
scream violently. Good form equally requires Pollio to 
tear her thence with playful violence "a remembrance," 
people say, "of the Romans' rape of the Sabines." Statilia 
promptly ceases struggling and submits cheerfully to being 
led through the door. 

70 A Day in Old Rome 

The wedding procession is an indispensable part of the 
ceremony. Probably if Pollio lives in another city, some 
family friend will now loan his residence for " leading home 
the bride." As it is, the bridegroom fortunately possesses a 
handsome house about a mile distant on the Quirinal. For 
all her wealth Statilia has to walk the entire way. 

First go the flute players bringing the crowds out of all the 
insulse when they cross the Subura; then long files of the 
younger guests of both sexes, talking vivaciously, and flour- 
ishing white-thorn torches ; then the camillus and a youthful 
assistant bearing ostentatiously the bride's spindle and dis- 
taff, token of the household labors presumably ahead of her ; 
then the bride herself, led on either hand by a boy both of 
whose parents are living, while a third of like good fortune 
carries a special torch of honor. Pollio himself walks just 
behind the bride, and is kept busy tossing walnuts to all the 
children in the crowd in token of the fact that he has now 
(for the second time) put away childish things. After them, 
with more flambeaux and in merry disorder, taking pains to 
exhibit their fine robes and jewels, follow all the older rela- 
tives and friends of both parties. The torchlight, the music, 
the brave colors, and gems gleaming out of the darkness 
make the scene bewitching. No wonder all the gaping 
crowds join in the marriage shouts " lo Talasse I" 1 or in the 
oft-repeated " Felicitas ! " 

57. At the Bridegroom's House. -The guests and many 
of the spectators fail not also to raise the " Fescinne 
songs " proper for marriage processions ; old folk songs 
very coarse, and interspersed with extremely broad quips 
and personalities. At last the house of Pollio is reached. 
It is a blaze of light from vestibule to garden, and all the 

Possibly meaning "Hurrah for Talassus, the marriage god!" but 
the exact significance of this time-honored shout had probably been long 
since lost. 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 71 

decuri (squads of ten) of slaves are mustered to greet their 
new domina. 

At the entrance Statilia stops to wind the door pillars with 
bits of wool, and to touch the door itself with oil and fat, the 
emblems of plenty. She is then promptly lifted over the 
threshold to avoid an ill-omened stumble, and is immediately 
confronted by her husband who has slipped in before her and 
who now presents her with a cup of water and a glowing fire 
brand, token that she is entitled to the protection of his family 
Lares. Statilia accepts these and in clear voice repeats the 
very ancient and famous marriage formula, " Where thou art 
Gaius, I am Gaia " ( Ubi tu Gains, ego Gaia). 

The invited guests now sweep inside and there is more el- 
bowing while Statilia produces three silver coins ; one of these 
she gives to her husband as emblem of her dowry ; one she 
lays on the altar for the Lares of her new home ; one she casts 
back into the street, a gift to the " Lares of the Highway " 
who guarded the door. Then her marriage torch is blown 
out, and tossed away to be scrambled for as emblem of su- 
preme good luck by all the younger guests. The matron 
of honor has already arranged the luxurious marriage cham- 
ber, and the happy pair are led inside and the door shut upon 
them, while all their friends join in the rollicking " nuptial 
song " just outside the portal. There is nothing left now 
for the guests to do but to go home ; all being invited, how- 
ever, to return to Pollio's house the next day to join in a 
second great feast, with Statilia this time presiding as mis- 
tress of the establishment. 

58. Honors and Liberties of a Matron. Before her mar- 
riage Statilia had been a mere girl, completely controlled by 
her parents, unable to appear in public save under severe 
restrictions, and apparently with hardly a will of her own. 
The day after entering Pollio's house she finds herself become 
by one act a noble matrona, with the destinies of a huge 

72 A Day in Old Rome 

retinue of slaves and freedmen at her disposal, enjoying a 
great property, meeting her husband's friends as their equal, 
going where she pleases, saying what she pleases, almost 
(within wide limits) doing what she pleases. 

Abroad in crowds, her dress, the stola matronalis, secures 
the young married woman extreme respect. Every March, 
she, with all the other honorable wives in Rome, enjoys the 
honors of the matronalia, an official festival, kind of 
" Mother's day " devoted to celebrating the virtues of the 
gracious heads of each household. On this day no less than 
on her birthday, she receives presents from her husband, 
her family, and all her dependents. Finally, being a 
Senator's wife, when she comes to die, she probably will be 
entitled to a great state funeral, with a formal eulogy in the 
Forum as if she were a public personage. No wonder that 
Roman girls yearn eagerly for marriage 1 It is their 
astonishing emancipation. 

69. Unhappy Marriages and Frivolous Women. Will a 
fashionable alliance like that of Statilia and Pollio turn out 
happily? There are scoffers even among the friends who 
bore the torches. Nobody expects Pollio (a gay young aris- 
tocrat) to prove an example of austere faithfulness, although 
he must never do anything to insult his wife publicly. As for 
Statilia the cynics about the fair sex are very many. Long 
ago Ovid has written, " Every woman may be won if only 
she's rightly tempted." If a young wife is light-minded, she 
has plenty of opportunities to acquire lovers, and at the great 
festivals and banquets, at the theaters, gladiator fights, and 
circuses women have every chance to meet intriguing men 
without interference by their husbands. 

The very fact that as unmarried girls Roman matrons were 
denied all chance for lawful romances, now makes devious 
love affairs seem all the more racy. Any number of fine 
ladies have indulged in unwise " friendships " with dissolute 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 73 

actors, public dancers, or even gladiators. In many a man- 
sion there is a handsome freedman or even a slave who can 
become extraordinarily familiar with his mistress. There 
are said to be coarse-grained mothers who actually teach 
their married daughters how to push intrigues and to smuggle 
in or out love-letters under the very noses of their hus- 
bands ; and there are plenty of young men, rich, " noble/' 
and very idle, who spend their time philandering with mar- 
ried ladies. 

With every deduction and allowance for scandal the num- 
ber of such unsteady women is very great. " What snakes 
are driving you mad," cried Juvenal, " that you think of 
taking a wife ? Why not leap from a high window or from 
the -dEmilian bridge rather than submit to a she-tyrant ? " 

However, even if women lead lives that are outwardly re- 
spectable, there are plenty of minor charges against Roman 
ladies. Some are utterly extravagant; haunting the fine 
shops along the Via Lata and running up ruinous bills. Some 
are laughed at for taking up music, poetry, or Greek antiqui- 
ties as shallow fads and " chattering in a mixture of Latin and 
Greek, and making their tongues go incessantly like a gong." 
Some are said to take fencing lessons and to waste their days 
practicing on a dummy antagonist with a foil, and learning 
to handle a shield as if intending to join the army. Others 
are never happy unless they know all the latest news : " What 
the Thracians and the Seres (Chinese) are doing " ; " Who 
has just married a notorious widow " ; " Whether a comet 
threatens the King of Parthia." Others are utterly selfish 
and heartless ; they will weep at the loss of- a pet sparrow, 
but treat their slave girls with hideous brutality, and " let 
a husband die to save a lap-dog's life." Worst of all are 
certain women actually suspected of giving their unloved 
husbands a dose of poison when various reasons make a 
divorce inconvenient. 

74 A Day in Old Rome 

60. Divorces, Easy and Frequent. However, divorce is 
the regular outcome of very many unlucky marriages. Every 
Roman girl, when her parents tell her " We have chosen for 
you " ; knows in the back of her mind : " Marriage will 
give me freedom. If this wedlock isn't a success, my next 
husband will probably be my own choosing." 

The first divorce mentioned in Roman history was in 231 
B.C. when a certain Ruga put away a truly beloved wife, out 
of a high sense of public duty because she bore him no 
children. The public was shocked at such action then, but 
soon it was shocked no longer. Under the later Republic 
lucky was the nobleman or noblewoman who was not divorced 
at least once. Cicero divorced Terentia after a long wedded 
life seemingly because he wanted a new marriage portion ; 
Cato the Younger (immaculate Stoic) repudiated his wife to 
please a friend, then calmly took her back again at the friend's 

Under the Empire things hardly seem to have become any 
better. " Trial marriages " are not a recognized institution ; 
but surely they exist. It is direfully easy for either a man or 
woman to take the initiative. No court proceedings are 
necessary. " Take away your property !" spoken formally 
and before witnesses is sufficient to break up the household, 
although the more usual method is to " send a messenger "; 
i.e. dispatch a delegation of friends to the other party to break 
the news. Vainly did Augustus try by legislation to make 
divorces less prompt and convenient. The whole proceeding 
is still grievously popular and simple. 

Of course, divorced persons are under no stigma in the 
fashionable set. Many a time a couple has separated, mar- 
ried elsewhere, separated again, and then resumed the old 
wedlock. Women are charged with " flitting from one home 
to another, wearing out the bridal veil " ; and indeed, spicy 
instances are cited of ladies who boasted " eight husbands 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 75 

in five autumns, a fact worthy of commemoration on their 
tombs " ; or of reckoning the years not by the annual consuls 
but by their annual husbands. 

61. Celibacy Common : Old Families Dying Out. Under 
such conditions what wonder many a rich Roman prefers 
celibacy ! They often proclaim the " advantages of child- 
lessness/' Old men of property without children are fawned 
upon with offers of every kind of service. Social and even 
public honors are thrust upon them. Their atria are 
crowded every morning with genteel visitors; their least 
wishes anticipated all in the desperate hopes that " when 
their tablets are opened " they will have remembered the 
swarm of lackeys in their wills. Indeed, adventurers have 
been known to go far in Rome by making a false show of 
wealth, concealing the fact they actually have children, and 
" seeming bilious and complaining of indigestion." Every- 
body apparently will give them favor or credit. It is a 
familiar scandal. 

Under such circumstances what wonder most of the old 
Republican families -have died out by the age of Hadrian, 
that the Calvi feel very isolated; and that of the strictly 
patrician families only the famous Cornelii appear now to 

62. Nobler Types of Women. But do the above stories 
represent the true moral condition of most women in Rome ? 
Certainly not, or society could not exist. In the first place 
such women represent the rotten crust of the nobility ; the 
ordinary equestrian and middle-class women are still rela- 
tively modest and moral, efficient managers, good mothers, 
and, if they are poor, hard workers. In the second place, 
even among the upper Senatorial nobility, there are plenty 
of matronse of the very best type ; true props to their hus- 
bands, wise mothers to their children, kindly mistresses to 


A Day in Old Rome 

their slaves. Gratia has many friends whose households are 
schools of virtue, and many a Roman, from the Imperial 
Augustus down, has confessed that his wife has been his tower 
of strength. 

63. Famous and Devoted Wives. People still talk of 
the famous Arria, wife of Csecina Psetus, who, when the 
Emperor Claudius ordered him to commit suicide, and he 
could hardly pluck up courage for a manly exit from life, 

as an example plunged 
the dagger in her own 
breast, then held it out 
to her husband, saying, 
" Psetus, it doesn't hurt 
me." Her own daugh- 
ter, the younger Arria, 
and Fannia, the wife 
of the philosopher Hel- 
vidius Priscus, grossly 
murdered by Nero, won 
hardly less reputations 
for fortitude. Pliny the 
Younger has recorded 
(Boy At- a more humbly born 
Italian dame, who, 
when her husband was suffering from incurable ulcers, but 
lacking the hardihood to kill himself alone, tied herself to him 
and with him jumped into the lake at Larium so that both 
were drowned. 

Fortunately the days of tyrannous emperors seem long since 
over. Wives usually can show their virtue by living for their 
husbands and not by dying with them. Rather lately there 
passed away an old man, Domitius Tullus. Vast was his 
wealth but it brought him no pleasure ; he was so crippled 
and racked in every limb "that he could only enjoy his great 


Roman Women and Roman Marriages 77 

riches by looking at them. He was so helpless that he had 
to get others to clean and wash his teeth." He had a young 
and a very pretty wife ; but so far from neglecting him or 
trying to hasten his end, she kept him alive for years by ex- 
traordinarily faithful personal care. Lately, too, the vener- 
able Senator Macrinus has lost his wife, " who if she had lived 
in the good old days would have been counted an exemplary 
woman. They lived together for thirty-nine years, with 
never a single quarrel or 
disagreement. " l 

These are simply random 
cases. Of course, many 
people know the tribute 
Pliny the Younger paid to 
his own wife Calpurnia, 
much younger than himself 
but absolutely devoted to 
her husband : " She has a 
keen intelligence, she is won- 
derfully economical, and she 
loves me/* He went on to 
add that she read all his 

literary effusions most care- * SEATED NOBLEWOMAN. 
fully, sat behind a curtain 
to listen when he gave public recitations before a male audi- 
ence, and that when he had to argue in court had relays of 
runners to keep her informed as to how well he was impress- 
ing the judges. When the twain were separated she " would 
embrace his letters as though they were himself/' while he 
(if he got no new letters from her) " would read over her old 
letters and take them up again and again as though they 
were new ones." 

1 Both of these instances are from Pliny the Younger. 

78 A Day in Old Rome 

64. The Story of Turia. One day when Gratia had 
caught young Junia overhearing a very uncanny story of a 
rich old lady who kept a whole troupe of profligate actors for 
her own private amusement, she took her out upon the mag- 
nificent avenue of stately tombs along the Appian Way to 
visit the memorial to a venerated ancestress, a certain 
Turia "who had lived in the troubled days of the Second 
Triumvirate, and who by her rare courage, fortitude, and 
intelligence had saved her husband the noble Vespillo from 
disgrace and death. 

Turia's husband in a long inscription recited how she had 
saved his life in the Civil Wars at sore peril to her own, and 
how she had lived with him afterward in perfect affection and 
harmony, although, being childless, such was her devotion 
to him that she actually offered to let Vespillo divorce her 
that he might have children by a second marriage, promising 
very literally " to be a sister " to his new wife. But her 
husband repudiated the strange idea with anger : " That you 
should have ever thought it possible we could be separated 
save by death was most horrible to me. The one sorrow 
that was in store for me was that I was destined to survive 

And thus the tablet concluded : " You were a faithful and 
obedient wife ; you were kind and gracious, sociable and 
friendly ; you were assiduous in your spinning ; you followed 
our family and national religious rites and admitted no foreign 
superstitions; you did not dress conspicuously, nor make 
any kind of household display. Your management of our 
house was exemplary; you tended my mother as carefully 
as if she had been your own. You had innumerable other 
excellencies, common to the best type of matrons, but these 
I mention are peculiarly your own." 1 

1 For a complete quotation of this highly interesting tablet, see Fowl- 
er's "Social Life at Rome," pp. 159-167, 

Roman Women and Roman Marriages 79 

Turia has been dead over a hundred years, but there are 
still high-born women in Rome who are her equals. One of 
them, Calvilla, has a fine young son now about thirteen, who 
owes an infinite debt to his mother, and whom the Emperor 
will presently select as the heir presumptive to the throne. 
History will call him Marcus Aurelius. 


65. The Type of Roman Garments. How is it possible 
to mention Roman women and Roman weddings without 
thoughts also of Roman costume and personal adornment? 
Seldom, indeed, has there been or will there be an age in which 
fine wearing apparel, and jewelry, and elaborate hair dressing 
can occupy so great a place in the thoughts of both sexes as 
it does in this era of the Roman Empire. 

Good clothes and fine rings are in fact so important that 
if you do not possess them, on many social occasions you must 
hire them. There were several guests at Statilia's wedding 
who appeared in gala robes with handsome jewels to match. 
With them went attendants who passed for confidential freed- 
men ; yet it was whispered they were actually the agents of 
costume purveyors charged to see that every hired banquet- 
ing gown and topaz-set ring was promptly returned. 

Roman garments are like the Greek: they are usually 
wrapped on, they are not like those of a later age which must 
be put on. Pins, buckles, and brooches usually take the place 
of buttons. Sometimes, however, costumes of a different 
type can be met with in the cosmopolitan crowds in the fora. 
Occasionally are seen Persians and Parthians wearing tight- 
fitting leathern casings around their lower limbs, like the 
articles that another day will style " trousers " ; and more 
frequently are met blond or red-headed Gauls wearing cara- 
callce, close-fitting garments with long sleeves, slit down in 
front and reaching to the knee. 1 Such dresses are, however, 

1 The use of this garment gave his familiar nickname to the Emperor 
Bassianus, "Caracalla," who reigned 212-217 A.D. The Gauls also had 


Costume and Personal Adornment SI 

exceptional. Loose shawl-like apparel prevails in Rome just 
as with nearly all the classical Mediterranean peoples. 

66. The Toga, the National Latin Garment. But 
Roman tailors have never been servile imitators of Sparta 
or Athens. Long before Greek costumers became familiar 
visitors by the Tiber, the Latin folk had found their own na- 


tional garment the toga. Every true Roman is proud of 
the right to wear this distinctive garment, and its use is pro- 
hibited to non-Romans, however princely or wealthy. A 
group of ex-slaves has just come from the praetor, where their 
master has emancipated them thereby making them 
Roman citizens. In a body they are flocking to the clothiers' 

a kind of trousers. This was counted against them as a token of sheer 
barbarism: brctcatos nationes ("trouser-wearing peoples") was a term of 
extreme contempt in Italy, 

82 A Day in Old Rome 

stalls when they can emerge as arrogant togati lawful 
members of the imperial race. An unfortunate senator has 
lately been condemned for malfeasance in office and sentenced 
to banishment. It is not the least of his penalty that he 
must also divest himself of his toga : it can never be worn by 
a degraded exile. Clients have to wear this gown de rigueur 
when they visit their patrons in the morning he would 
feel insulted if they omitted it. 

Anybody also having the least official business at the palace 
must wear the toga; and the reigning Hadrian has just 
issued an edict commanding all senators and equites to wear 
the garment on the city streets at all times except when re- 
turning from dinner parties ; while the distinguished rheto- 
rician Titus Castricius has lately delivered a public lecture, 
probably by imperial request, on " the proper costume for 
senators walking about Rome, " urging obedience to the law. 
The toga in short occupies a place in Roman manners hardly 
equaled by any other garment in any other nation. 

Nevertheless, many a client or nobleman, as he dons this 
mantle, inwardly curses the folly of the men of " the good old 
times " in selecting the toga as the national garment. It is 
very hot, very clumsy, very hard to drape around one's self 
without expert assistance. 

Everybody knows the story of old Cincinnatus, how when 
he was out plowing and the committee of Senators suddenly 
appeared to say, " You are named dictator ; make haste to 
save the imperilled army " ; would not receive them until his 
wife had run and fetched his toga and he was suitably clad. 
In his day, however, the toga was almost the only garment 
worn and was hardly more than a small-sized woolen shawl. 
Now one always wears a tunica as a house and undergarment, 
and the toga has been growing ever larger and more elaborate. 
Dandies still wear togas so huge as to justify Cicero's sneer : 
" They wrap themselves in sails not in togas." But even for 

Costume and Personal Adornment 83 

decent citizens the garment is disagreeably complicated. 
The use thereof is one of the penalties for the splendid right 
to boast, " Civis Romanus sum I" 

67. Varieties of Togas. The normal toga is always of 
wool and is usually of a dull white, the natural color of the 
wool; but in the Republican days seekers for election to 
public office would have their togas bleached to a conspicuous 
snowy whiteness, and hence their name, Candidati " extra- 
white " men. Boys wear the toga proetexta, a toga with an 
elaborately embroidered purple hem. When they put this 
off on reaching manhood (fourteen to sixteen) they proudly 
assume the pure white toga, inwardly hoping, however, that 
they can some day reappear in the prcetexta for it is also 
the official robe of the high " curule " magistrates. 

More glorious still is the toga picta entirely of purple and 
with gold embroidery, which can be worn by great officials 
while they are presiding over public games, and which is used 
by the Emperors on all state occasions. Quite different, of 
course, is the gloomy toga pulla, dyed to some dark color, and 
worn as mourning or to excite sympathy in some threatened 
calamity ; e.g. if one is the defendant in a dangerous law- 

68. Draping the Toga. The plain white toga, however, 
suffices in most cases for most Romans. Of course, there is 
a vast difference between the dirty shawls not without moth 
holes, which some of Calvus's clients have thrown around 
them the morning we visit his mansion, and the garment 
which his special valet, Parmenio, drapes about him when 
presently the Senator announces, " I must visit the Forum/' 

Parmenio has to be assisted by no less than three other 
slaves while he literally winds the soft white mass of fine 
Milesian wool around his master. When skillfully draped, 
the toga appears to be an easy and elegant garment, leaving 

84 A Day in Old Rome 

the right arm at liberty, and flowing around the person in 
noble lines implying dignity and deliberation. Well can it 
be called " one of the handsomest dresses ever worn by man" ; 
but who can tell the pains required to get the huge semi- 
circular fabric into shape. 1 

Every fold has to settle with precision ; every corner has 
to trail to exactly the right length ; and the whole has to be 
so adjusted that Calvus can walk easily without fear of dis- 
locating his toga, although it is without brooches or other 
fastenings. When at last, however, all is ready, the results 
justify the effort. Its wearer appears every inch a Senator : 
one of the leaders of the arrogant imperial race. 

69. The Tunica. The toga has to be worn everywhere 
in public, but the instant he is back from the hot Forum, Cal- 
vus is more than glad to fling it off. Indoors he, with all other 
Romans, wears the tunica. The tunic is a comparatively 
new garment in Italy. In early Rome probably the toga was 
the only clothing worn at all except a simple undershirt or 
loin cloth. The tunic in fact resembles closely the Greek 
chiton, 2 and is made much the same for men and for women. 
It is a kind of long shirt fashioned by sewing two pieces of 
cloth together, with holes for the arms or with short sleeves, 
and secured around the waist by a girdle. Long sleeves 
(Gallic style) are not unknown but they are accounted very 
effeminate. Without the belt the tunic falls well down to the 
ankles, but it is easily shortened by drawing the cloth up 

1 Probably there were simpler and more complicated forms of togas. 
The first were apparently shaped like an irregular semicircle. We hear 
of extremely large togas (in bad taste) whereof the total length was four 
yards before draping. Experiments in certain American universities at 
making and then draping a toga corresponding in effect to many well- 
known statues have amply illustrated the* great difficulty of putting on 
the garment gracefully, and the real art required of a Roman nobleman's 

* See " A Day in Old Athens," p. 44. 

Costume and Personal Adornment 85 

through the girdle and letting it tumble around the waist in 
a loose fold. 

In warm weather the tunic is often the only garment that 
a Roman wears indoors. In cold weather he will put a sec- 
ond tunic (or two or three extra, as did Augustus) under his 
outer one. Like the toga the tunic is ordinarily made of 
white wool, the finer the better, but, unlike the toga, if the 
wearer is of the nobility, the tunic is never plain. When the 
owner is an eques a narrow strip of purple (angusiidama) , 
if a senator a broad strip (laticlavia), runs down the entire 
length of the garment both behind and in front. This is the 
official token of his rank, that all men may reverence his 
nobility, and one of the chief tasks of a great man's valets is 
to hang the toga so that the purple strips on the tunic will 
always peep out conspicuously from the undergarment. 

70. Capes, Cloaks, and Gala Garments. The toga and 
the tunic are the two standard male garments in peace times, 
but they do not meet every requirement. On festival days, 
unless the imperial edict is very strictly enforced, most of the 
younger citizens will be seen streaming to the theater or 
circus in the lacerna. This, at first, was merely a short sleeve- 
less mantle of light stuff thrown over the toga to protect 
against dust or rain. Presently it was made into a more 
festive garment, usually of brilliantly dyed wool, and was 
substituted for the toga outright. There is a hood usually 
attached and it is convenient, therefore, to wear the lacerna 
if one is not anxious to be recognized on the streets ; it is so 
very easy to conceal one's face. 

In bad, weather, and with poor country people in general, 
however, the pcsnula is more useful. This is much like the 
lacerna, a sleeveless (" Shaker ") cloak or cape, also provided 
with a hood, but always made of coarse heavy material. 
Most travelers wear the paenula, and it is a common gar- 
ment for the slaves. 

86 A Day in Old Rome 

Like the psenula in turn is a third type of swinging cloak, 
but usually cut shorter, the sagum, issued to soldiers. 
Sometimes it is of rough material for the severest purposes, 
sometimes it is a truly elegant garment for officers, floating 
in bright colors over flashing armor. The generals wear a 
special sagum of conspicuous red, the paludamentum. The 
sagum is, in fact, so decidedly the military cloak that the 
phrase " changing the toga for the sagum " has become a 
regular way of saying " being suddenly called to arms." 

One can see many Oriental and Greek-style garments in 
Rome, but native gentlemen have only one other article of 
apparel that must be mentioned. Everybody ought to keep 
a gauzy and brilliantly dyed synthesis for indoor wear at 
formal dinner parties, to wear over the tunic. It can never 
be worn outdoors except during the jolly riot of the Satur- 
nalia, but indoors it is light, comfortable, and a fine con- 
trast to the heavy togas. Saffron, amethystine, and azure 
are the favorite colors, and at ultra-fashionable parties it is 
good form for a male guest to rise between courses and put on 
a new synthesis of a different hue, held ready by his slaves, 

71. Garments of Women : the Stola and the Palla. 
Calvus, of course, keeps many specimens of all these garments 
in his wardrobe. The average poor citizen gets along with 
a toga, a tunic or two, and probably a psenula. Gratia's 
clothes chests and presses are inevitably more ample than her 
husband's, but the garments of a Roman lady resemble those 
of a Greek they are far more like the masculine garments 
than are those of women of a later age. Gratia really seldom 
wears any save three kinds of garments : her tunics, her 
stolse, and her pallse. 

Roman ladies anxious about their figures cannot squeeze 
themselves with corsets, but sometimes they do wear bands 
of soft leather pressed tightly around their bodies. Then 
comes the tunic, extremely like the inner tunic worn by the 

Costume and Personal Adornment 87 

men, but it fits the body rather more closely ; sometimes it 
has no sleeves, and it falls only to the knee and it needs no 
belt. Over this single garment is the essential dress of the 
Roman matrona, her stola. It is decidedly more elaborate 
than the outer tunic of the men. In the main it is not sewn, 
but is held together by a 
whole series of clasps and 
pins giving an admirable 
opportunity for the display 
of gem-set buckles. There is 
a girdle, passing high, above 
the waist; the many folds 
tumble to the feet, but at the 
very bottom there is an em- 
broidered flounce or hem, and 
with noble women at least 
this flounce is always of 
purple as is the border around 
the neck. 

Like the toga, the stola is 
an extremely ample garment, 
giving its owner a chance to 
display innumerable graceful 
folds ; and like the toga, good 
taste requires that it should 
usually be of clear white. 
To wear the stola is the 
proud privilege of Roman 

A ROMAN MATRON: showing 
stola and palla. 


matrons, and in it no woman of light character is per- 
mitted to flaunt herself. 1 Girls put on the stola immedi- 

1 There were various simpler garments, similar to the stola, permitted 
to common women and to young girls. The distinctive feature of the 
stola, forbidden to all save honorable matrons, seems to have been the 
lower flounce, reaching to the feet. 

88 A Day in Old Rome 

ately after their marriage, and even more than the toga it 
is a garment of grace, permitting beautiful poses of statu- 
esque dignity. 

Outdoors a Roman lady will wrap herself in her palla. 
This is merely a large shawl, although often with elaborate 
arrangement. Gratia's maids usually throw one third of its 
length over her left shoulder, letting the end trail almost to 
her feet, while the remainder is carried behind the back and 
wound skilfully around the wearer, although if a head cover- 
ing is needed, one can draw up some of the cloth and form a 
loose and convenient hood. 

Every woman in Rome possesses a palla ; and the wealthy, 
of course, own whole arsenals of them in every possible size, 
weight, material, color, and embroidery, suitable for all pur- 
poses from winter travel to snaring susceptible youths beside 
one in the theater. 

72. Materials for Garments. Wool and Silk. So much 
for the types of garments. Needless to say that their fabrics 
and details are infinite. Wool is still the standard material. 
Even now " in these degenerate days " the best Roman 
matrons keep the spindles and distaffs working with their 
maids in the peristylia, and make up a large part of all the 
coarser garments needed by the household. Calvus takes 
pride in wearing and exhibiting a really handsome toga and 
in telling his friends " my Gratia made that " ; but various 
other senators can utter like boasts, their wives merely imi- 
tating such empresses as Livia, who wove all Augustus's 
everyday garments. 

On the great villa estates the slaves are kept from busy idle- 
ness in winter by weaving cloth, not merely for themselves, 
but for their masters' families in the city. But such fabrics, 
ordinarily, are decidedly coarse. There are really fine wool- 
ens made in southern Italy, but the very best comes from the 
East. " Milesian wool " is a trade name in every market, 

Costume and Personal Adornment 89 

though very likely much of it actually is from Tyre, Sidon, or 
Alexandria. A good deal of linen is woven up into comfort- 
able house dresses. Enough cotton comes in from the Orient 
to make it no rarity for superior garments, but it is too scarce 
for any common use. What every Roman of fashion dotes 
upon, however, is silk. 

Far away in the East is a half-mythical land, Serica or 
Seres. Hardly any European has ever penetrated there, 1 
but caravan traders pass along small parcels of a wonderful 
material alleged to grow on trees. Garments made thereof 
are incomparably lovely ; but the material is worth its full 
weight in gold or even more. As a result the stuff is spun up 
into the flimsiest and gauziest gala dresses imaginable, and 
these are often partly made of cotton. Seneca has written in 
disgust (( We see silken garments, if indeed, they can be called 
' garments ' which neither afford protection to the body, nor 
concealment to modesty." For all that women like Statilia 
and her mother will be miserable if they have not plenty of 
" Serician tissues " wherewith to float into the Amphi- 
theater or Circus and dazzle their rivals in a city where, 
as complains Juvenal : " Everybody always dresses above 
his means." 

73. Styles of Arranging Garments. Fullers and Cleaners. 

With garments so simple in their sewing as togas and sto- 
las there is little call in Rome for exclusive tailoring establish- 
ments or for fashionable makers of " gowns." Practically 
all purchased clothing, however costly, is "ready-made," 
although the shifting styles in girding, arranging the folds, 
buckles, etc., are infinite. For example, there is a special 
arrangement of the toga in peculiarly ample folds known as 

1 About twenty years after the reign of Hadrian, Chinese annals 
record that certain "Roman" (Grseco-Levantine?) traders actually 
reached China, and gave themselves out as envoys to the "Son of 
Heaven" from "Antun" (Antoninus Pius). 

90 A Day in Old Rome 

the " Gabinian cincture," and this form is practically required 
every time a man joins in an important sacrifice. 

If, nevertheless, the dressmaker's skill is simple, there is 
constant demand for that of the cleaner's, whose art is 
brought to great perfection. The huge squares of fine woolen 
seem continually going to or coming from the fullers' estab- 
lishments. The fullers pass for peculiarly jovial, friendly 
people, and the " jolly fuller " is a stock character in 

Soap is a Gallic invention and it is just coming into fairly 
common use. Garments are still cleansed, however, with 
"fuller's meal," a kind of alkaline earth. Wherever you go 
around the humbler parts of Rome you hear a monotonous 
song being trolled over and over, and coming usually from a 
pungently smelling establishment. It is the fullers' tripu- 
dium ("three step "), sung as they tread out the clothes in 
the great vats all day long. After the direct cleaning, a fine 
garment has to be recarded to bring up the soft nap, then it is 
carefully smoothed in a large wooden press with powerful 
screws. 1 Every household can do its own laundry work, but 
in no later age will the " cleaner " reign with the supremacy 
which he enjoys in Rome. His justification comes when, at 
great public assemblies, thousands of togas and stolas veri- 
tably shine under the Italian sun like newly fallen snow. 

74. Barber Shops. The Revived Wearing of Beards. 
Rome, too, is a city of barbers. Their shops abound 
everywhere and are great places for lounging and gossip. 
Most men have their hair clipped quite short, although a 
good many dandies delight in wearing fringes or rows of short 
crisped curls (as did Nero) often reeking with pomatum. 
People who dislike appearing old sometimes use black hair 
dye ; and not a few elderly senators are said to wear wigs. 

1 Very like a modern copying press. 

Costume and Personal Adornment 91 

The barber shops, however, have recently received a ter- 
rific blow; and loud is the lament of the entire profession 
shared in by all those private " house barbers " who care for 
the wealthy. Since not long after 300 B.C. Romans have been 
smooth shaven, beards ordinarily being counted the sign of 
rusticity or of poverty ; although teachers of philosophy wore 
long whiskers as a kind of professional badge. The day when 


a youth shaved off his first beard was celebrated almost as 
elaborately as the day he assumed the pure white " manly " 
toga. But to general consternation the reigning Emperor 
Hadrian, in his passionate admiration for Periclean Athens, 
has astonished all Rome by appearing with a full beard. Of 
course, every courtier and government official has loyally 
imitated him. Of course, every senator and eques has with 
equal loyalty done likewise. Feminine protests have been 

A Day in Old Rome 

Costume and Personal Adornment 93 

utterly vain. Beards, sometimes closely trimmed, sometimes 
long and venerable, have blossomed on almost every manly 
chin across the entire Empire. Imperial Rome will hence- 
forth continue bearded until the era of Constantine, nearly 
two hundred years, when the razor will suddenly resume its 
sway. Such is the power of Caesarian example ! 

75. Fashions in Women's Hairdressing. Hair Ornaments. 
If the barbers are unhappy, their gentler rivals, the orna- 
trices, who dress the hair of ladies, still reign in full glory. No 
Roman girl dreams of cutting off her hair, but the modes of 
arranging it are, as says Ovid, "More numerous than the 
leaves on the oak or the bees on Mount Hybla." Fash- 
ions come and. go with astonishing rapidity, and we have seen 
how Gratia's statue was devised so that a new coiffure could 
be substituted for the old (see p. 53). 

As a rule young girls bind back their hair in simple coils 
or clusters of curls, but some of the styles permitted to them 
from the moment they become matrons defy easy description. 
The prevailing mode rather favors building up the hair in an 
elaborate semicircular mound in front with ringlets and 
plaits behind ; but many a lady appears with a perfect tower- 
like structure that would collapse instantly were it not an 
affair compacted with extreme art. Of course, such edifices 
put a premium on false hair, preferably blonde from Germany, 
or even on wigs. Auburn hair, however, is extremely fash- 
ionable, and many a lady buys the expensive " Batavian 
caustic " supposed to bleach to the proper shade. Even 
very modest women can rejoice in great treasure chests of 
hair ornaments, elaborate hair pins, and combs made of pre- 
cious metal or fine boxwood, ivory, and tortoise shell ; besides 
all kinds of snoods and wimples usually of scarlet, amethys- 
tine, or ivory. Noble dames will keep at least one diadem, 
a long band of golden chains set with as many pearls and 
jewels as possible. On simple social occasions they will wear 

94 A Day in Old Rome 

their hair in a net of gold thread. As for the very wealthy, 
they have one simple and favorite method of displaying their 
riches that of bidding their maids, almost every day, to 
sprinkle the whole coiffure liberally with pure gold dust. 

76. Elaborate Toilets. Needless to say, the toilet is, to 
ladies of fashion, a slow and serious business, consuming most 
of the morning. 1 Statilia's mother, for example, who is now 
old enough to have to guard her complexion, has as her first 
duty that of suffering her maidens to peel off the thick layer 
of cosmetic paste smeared upon her face ere retiring. She 
complains that her husband is stingy because he will not let 
her imitate Poppsea (Nero's Empress), who took a bath in 
asses' milk every morning to improve her looks. 

Such a lady, of course, requires two maids to dress her and 
to pile the masses of hair upon her head ; the pair being sup- 
ported and directed by an old freedwoman who " assists at the 
council/' skilfully improves and flatters, and who perhaps 
can do something to assuage the domina's fury if the latter's 
silver mirror reveals a misplaced curl, and she stabs the 
clumsy maid's arm with a sharp hairpin, or even shrieks out 
in wrath " Bring in the whipper ! " 

Blessed with such "tiers and storys" upon their heads, 
Roman women seldom need anything else out-of-doors except 
a veil or hood in extreme heat or bad weather. There are no 
milliners' shops along the Via Lata or Vicus Tuscus. The 
men likewise seldom bother about hats, and everybody on 
normal days goes about town bareheaded, although travelers 
have the hoods upon their psenulas. Workingmen, however, 
who are continually exposed to the weather, wear small 
conical felt hats the pilei; and travelers who find hoods 

1 Apuleius, writing probably a little later than this time, asserts that 
a lady, with no matter how fine clothes or jewels, cannot be considered 
really handsome unless an equal amount of attention has been bestowed 
upon her hair. 

Costume and Personal Adornment 95 

irksome can keep off the sun by a comfortable broad-brimmed 
hat, the petasus. 

77. Sandals and Shoes. Shoes, however, are more neces- 
sary and nobody but a slave goes barefooted around the 
streets. In the house nevertheless it is sufficient to wear very 
light and simple sandals, mere leather soles fastened to the 
foot with thongs ; and even these are laid aside when you 
stretch out on the couch for meals. To " call for your san- 
dals " is the same thing as " leaving the table." 

Outdoors one often puts on the calceus, which is practically 
like the shoe of other ages, although fastened not so much by 


lacings as by a complicated system of straps. Women's 
shoes are much like men's, although inevitably lighter and 
more often made of brightly colored leathers. High magis- 
trates are proud to wear red " Patrician shoes " with an extra 
elaborate scheme of bands and an ivory ornament " C " 
conspicuous upon the outside of the ankle. 1 Ordinary sena- 
tors wear red shoes without the " C " ; and equites a kind of 
tall boot recalling the days when to be an eques really implied 
being a horseman. Soldiers naturally clatter about in hob- 
nailed caligce, ponderous sandals with such heavy straps and 

1 Called the "luna" (crescent) ; but the origin is really unknown, 
although attempts were made to trace it back to some institution of 


A Day in Old Rome 

thongs that they become practically marching boots. As for 
stockings, they are all but unknown in Rome. 

78. The Mania for Jewels and Rings. But what dandy 
and what fashionable woman is content to appear merely with 
the standard quantity of clothing ? The mania for jewelry 

is inordinate. Teach- 
ers of oratory have to 
warn their pupils as 
did the great Quin- 
tilian that " the hand 
[of a good public 
speaker] should not be 
covered with rings, and 
especially these should 
not be set below the 
middle joint." Ex- 
quisites of both sexes, 
in fact, often wear half 
a dozen rings at once ; 
all with as fine jewels 
as possible, and with a 
separate " light " set of 
rings for summer, and 
a " heavy " set for 

The jewelry work is, 
of course, exquisite. 
In the best shops by the Campus Martius can be seen rings 
of magnificent chasing and carving, set with onyx, sard, 
banded agate, amethyst, ruby, and sapphire, 1 some plain, 


1 Diamonds were not unknown, but they were so hard to cut and so 
scarce that they figured rather seldom in Roman jewelry. They do not 
appear in the list of the twelve precious stones given in Revelation, XXI : 

Costume and Personal Adornment 97 

some engraved, and all of a beauty which any later age can 
envy. Inevitably there are pendants, coronets, and innu- 
merable brooches, and buckles every whit as fine. 

In addition, every Roman of equestrian or senatorial rank 
will wear with pride one perfectly plain gold ring (like a later 
wedding ring) as the token of his own nobility, and as the 
memorial of a time when a simple gold ring was the sign of 
real wealth. Every person of consequence also will wear a 
special signet ring, often an intaglio cut with some mytho- 
logical character. The impression of this frequently takes 
the place of a personal signature, and the illicit use of such a 
ring constitutes the gravest kind of forgery. 

79. Pearls in Enormous Favor. Time fails to speak of 
the beautiful cameos, intaglios, engraved medals, and huge 
engraved gems which are the triumphs of the lapidaries, and 
which many rich connoisseurs put in their collections ; but 
one must not omit certain precious objects which Romans 
seem to prize above all others : pearls. The more pearls ap- 
parently that the fashionable can spangle upon shoes, dress, 
fingers, and (for women) upon the hair, the better. The great 
jewelers will say that they sell more pearls than all the ordi- 
nary gems put together. 

The imperial councilors protest in vain at the ceaseless 
export of gold to India to pay for the unprofitable imports 
of pearls from Taprobane (Ceylon), but the mania for such 
gems continues. People still tell how Julius Csesar gave to 
Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus, a single weight pearl 
worth six million sesterces ($240,000) ; or how the inordi- 
nately rich Lollia Paulina, one of Caligula's overnumerous 
wives, appeared at a dinner party, with great pearls spangled 
over her unlovely person worth all together every whit of 
forty million sesterces ($1, 600,000) .* There are no such 

1 Stories about pearls are easily multiplied : e.g. how the son of Asopus, 
a famous actor, on coming into a vast patrimony, deliberately dissolved 

98 A Day in Old Rome 

tantalizing collections as hers now in Rome, but many a 
lady of modest means has in her coffers a few pearls large and 
beautiful ; and the cynics declare that in a crowd " the sight 
of a big pearl in a woman's ear is better than a lictor to clear 
the way for her." 

80. Perfumes : Their Constant Use. Nevertheless, 
something else is needful for a fine toilet beyond clothes, rings, 
and pearls, namely, perfumes. The old-line Italians were a 
coarse and hardy folk ; and later the Orientals, whom slavery 
or self-interest has brought into Italy, have a truly barbaric 
love for powerful odors. Even modest women, therefore, of 
reputed good taste like Gratia, will appear in public charged 
with scents which another generation would find highly 

There is no alcohol in which to carry perfumery. The 
odorous substances have to be dissolved in olive oil, making 
them at best greasy and liable to grow flat and obnoxious 
after a little exposure. But perfumery is practically indis- 
pensable. Men use it hardly less than do women. At fine 
banquets vials of perfumery are passed among the guests to 
pour over their heads and hands. The foppish youths who 
wave the hair on their heads, and render the rest of their 
bodies sleek and shiny with depilatories, simply reek with 
strong perfumery. 

On almost every important street you can find the little 
shops, usually kept by women, where are sold scented pow- 
ders, fragrant oils for bathers, and the precious bottles of gold, 
silver, glass, and alabaster for the unguents, as well as the 
standard perfumes themselves. Profitless it is to catalogue 
these last ; Pliny the Elder has listed twenty-one standard 
varieties mostly named after favorite flowers (e.g. narcissus) 

a large pearl in vinegar, then drank it down, in order to boast that he had 
"tossed off a million sesterces ($40,000) at one gulp !" 

Costume and Personal Adornment 99 

or Oriental spices (cinnamon, etc.). 1 Every funeral demands 
its supply of myrrh ; every sacrifice a quantity of Arabian 
frankincense. The perfume trade with the East is an impor- 
tant factor in Roman commerce, but very many of the pop- 
ular unguents are compounded in Italy. The great city of 
Capua in Campania grows rich by the industry ; 2 and the 
" perfumery interest " is one of the prime business elements 
in the economic life of the Empire. So much for the garments 
and ornaments which typical Romans put upon their persons. 
It is now right to ask concerning a more important matter 
still what do they have for dinner ? 

1 Even, less profitable, it would seem, is to try to list the cosmetics 
wherewith many Roman ladies, like their sisters of all times, covered 
their faces. Rouge was used in great quantities, and effeminate young 
men were known to have employed it. Eyebrows were blackened with 
antimony ; lips were reddened, and of course hair dye was a familiar 
article. Propertius suggests that some women went so far as to trace 
over the veins in their temples with blue. Other women indulged in 
small black patches somewhat as did English ladies in the days of Queen 
Anne : "There is nothing new under the sun." 

2 In Capua there was a whole great square of the city, the Seplasia, 
given over to perfumery shops and their wholesale trade. 



81. Romans Fond of the Table. Gourmandizing. The 
Famous Apicius. Seldom can there be another age when the 
importance of good eating and drinking occupies the place 
that it does in Rome. Vast numbers of coarse-grained people 
devoid of the least ability to criticize fine bronzes or to com- 
prehend Homer or Virgil can go into ecstasies over superior 
oysters. Epicurean philosophers can argue that " the true, 
the beautiful and the good " are to be as genuinely appre- 
hended by the enjoyment of ravishing tastes as by ravishing 
music. Gastronomy has become a kind of supreme science 
and art, and no slaves sell for better prices than truly expert 

Repeatedly huge fortunes have been ruined merely because 
their possessors wished to surpass all rivals with the extrava- 
gant refinements of gluttony. Since 69 A.D. and the coming 
to power of the simpler Flavian Csesars there has been a 
fortunate decline in many absurdities, but there are still 
plenty of people who admire and envy the fame of Apicius, 
the true example for the gourmand. 

Marcus Apicius flourished in Tiberius's age ; and he devel- 
oped a positive genius for inventing new sources of culinary 
delight. Every quarter of the Roman world was ransacked 
to find strange objects whereon to whet his appetite. In 
Hadrian's day people continue to eat Apician cakes and Api- 
cian sauces, such as are described in his encyclopaedic cook 
books. But although he inherited a hundred million ses- 


Food and Drink 



102 A Day in Old Rome 

terees ($4,000,000), at last his steward reported glumly, 
" You have only ten million ($400,000) left/' How was it 
possible for a true gourmand to exist in such poverty ? 
Apicius, therefore, committed suicide rather than live on 
commonplace fare ! Many will tell you that he showed the 
right spirit and that his busts stand as a kind of inspiration 
for dozens of rich epicures in their marble triclinia. 

82. Vitellius, the Imperial Glutton. One of Apicius's 
disciples, Vitellius, rose to Empire. In his brief reign (April 
December 69 A.D.) before Vespasian's troops killed him, 
he taught his subjects how truly a man can live to eat. He 
had trained himself by the constant use of emetics to devour 
four heavy meals per day. 1 His senatorial friends, obliged 
to invite him to their houses, never dared to offer him a dinner 
costing less than 400,000 sesterces ($16,000). His brother 
gave him a banquet at which were served " 2000 choice 
fishes and 7000 birds " ; but he returned the favor by giving 
a feast at the imperial palace in which he served his favorites 
with " The Shield of Minerva " a kind of salad-supreme 
made of " the livers of charfish, the brains of pheasants and 
peacocks, the tongues of flamingoes, and the entrails of lam- 
preys/' Warships had been sent as far as the ^Egean or 
Spain to round up some of these viands. It was lucky for 
the treasury that his reign was a very short one. 

83. Simple Diet of the Early Romans. And yet these 
worthies gorged and guzzled in a city whose founders had 
been famous for their abstemiousness. For many a genera- 
tion even prosperous Romans had lived very largely on coarse 
bread or even on a coarser wheat porridge (puls). Wheat 
porridge was what supplied the brawn and courage to the 
legionaries who brought to ruin Pyrrhus, Hannibal, Philip 

1 Vitellius was by no means alone in this disgusting practice, Seneca 
denounced the numerous gluttons who "Vomit that they may eat, and 
eat that they may vomit." 

Food and Drink 


of Macedon, and Antiochus. They were fortunate if their 
meal was not made of barley, later counted as being barely 
fit for inferior slaves. 

Even senators, we are told, were glad to pick a few green 
vegetables in their gardens to help out the porridge. On 
feast days there would be a little pork or bacon from the 
hanging rack, and if there was a public sacrifice the worship- 
ers might each take home a lump of beef. Such was the 
dietary of the men who 
originally made possible the 
fortunes of an Apicius, and 
as late as 174 B.C. there 
were no professional cooks 
in Rome. Now, however, 
there are plenty of purple- 
fringed exquisites who " can 
tell at first bite whether an 
oyster comes from Circeii, 
or the Lucerine rocks or 
clear from Britain; or at 
one glance discover the na- 
tive shore of a sea-urchin." 

84. Bread and Vege- 
tables. However, there 
are still multitudes who have to be content with very simple 
fare, and for them bread in some form is (as with all the 
Mediterranean peoples) very literally " the staff of life." In 
the great mansions there is, of course, a bakehouse for the 
huge familia, but the bulk of people frequent the numerous 
public bakeries, near which the mills driven by patient 
donkeys or by less patient slaves are incessantly grinding 

The standard loaves are made very flat, of moderate size, 
and about two inches thick, their backs often marked with 


104 A Day in Old Rome 

six or eight notches. There is a cheap bread of coarse grain 
(panis sordidus) for the humblest ; a second quality (panis 
secundus) for better class purchasers, and also the very white 
and sweet siligineus. You ask for " Picenian bread " if you 
want fine biscuit, and for libce if you desire smaller rolls. 
At feasts there will be wonderful structures of pastry, and 
by use of honey and chopped fruits sweet " cake " truly 
delectable comes out of many ovens. 

Vegetables and fruits can hardly play the part that 
they will in later gastronomy : potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, 
lemons all these grievously wanting. But there are ad- 
mirable cabbages, " the finest vegetable in the world," de- 
clared Cato the Elder, and turnips, the favorite dish of 
tough old Manius Curius, conqueror of the Samnites. 
Around Rome, for many miles, are long stretches of profit- 
able truck gardens, which send an incessant supply of arti- 
chokes, asparagus, beans, beets, cucumbers, lentils, melons, 
onions, peas, and pumpkins into the city. A visitor to 
Rome should promptly accustom himself to garlic; and 
there is' a certain fashionable rusticity about garlic eaters, as 
if they/ were trying to bring back the flavor and odor of 
" the good old times." 

85. Fruits, Olives, Grapes, and Spices. Italy, of course, 
is an excellent fruit country. In the markets are apples, 
pears, plums, and quinces, besides an abundance of very fine 
nuts, such as walnuts, filberts, and almonds. Peaches, apri- 
cots, cherries, and pomegranates are familiar, although some 
of these are rather late introductions to the peninsula from 
the East. Of course, in season there never fail magnificent 
olives and grapes which have abounded in Italy since time 

A great demand exists, too, for all kinds of salad greens ; 
cresses and fine lettuce, also edible mallows. Poppy-seed 
mixed with honey is a standard dish for desserts, and such 

Food and Drink 105 

seasonings as anise, fennel, mint, and mustard can be bought 
in all the innumerable little grocery shops scattered over 
Rome. In the larger foodshops can be had likewise those 
Oriental spices in heavy demand by the epicures ; and also 
very costly imported fruits, often preserved with great ingen- 
uity in an age that knows not the use of canning processes, 
refrigerating plants, or sugar. 

86. Meat and Poultry. The demand for meat has been 
steadily increasing with the growth of luxury and economic 
prosperity. Butchers' shops abound. Poor people buy 
goats' flesh, which, however, is completely disdained by the 
finical. Many citizens nevertheless never taste beef or mut- 
ton except when it is distributed in the form of a sacrifice at 
some of the great public festivals ; and even for the rich beef 
is not in extraordinary favor. 

Pork, however, is always popular. The despised Jews 
never seem to the Romans to show their national folly more 
clearly than in refusing to eat thereof. Pork in all forms, 
especially bacon and pork sausages figure in every important 
banquet ; and up in the Apennines in the vast acorn forests, 
uncounted herds of swine are always fattening to satisfy the 
incessant demands of the great capital. Poultry is on the 
whole in greater demand than meat. 1 Squawking coops of 
common fowl, ducks, and geese are on sale at almost every 
street corner. There is also good money in raising upon 
country preserves quantities of partridges, thrushes, and 
grouse, and even of cranes. In Cicero's day peacocks made 
a very fashionable dish, and they are still in request, 
although losing their old popularity. Hares, rabbits, venison 
are comparatively cheap, and everybody with a price can 
buy wild boar at the better purveyors' shops. 

1 The difficulty of preserving fresh meat, once butchered, would mili- 
tate against its use as compared with poultry easily killed for each 

106 A Day in Old Rome 

87. Fish in Great Demand. Rome, however, somewhat 
resembles Athens in one particular; the butcher shops are 
less important than the fish dealers' stalls. 1 Poor people 
eat salt fish or pickled fish, from little sardines to slices of the 
big cybium, as forming frequently the only break in an other- 
wise vegetarian diet. They also make up salt fish with vari- 
ous vegetables and cheese into a kind of fishballs. A man 
of income, however, is unhappy without his fresh fish daily. 
This creates a serious and expensive problem for Rome. 
There are a few eels and pike of good flavor caught right 
in the Tiber between the bridges, but the great fish supply 
must be brought from a distance often in warm weather 
without aid of refrigerating plants. Frequently along the 
road from Ostia, and very often down the Via Appia clear 
from Puteoli can be seen large wagons tearing in hot haste. 
They bring not government dispatches but fresh fish that 
will frequently command absurd prices in the city. 

Often all kinds of sea-food are transported still alive in 
small tanks ; and sometimes the distance whence they can be 
imported is astonishing. The best turbots (large flat fish) 
come from Ravenna on the Adriatic. Eels can be brought in 
good flavor from Sicily and even from Spain. Gourmands go 
into ecstasies over oysters from Circeii or Baise, but of late 
people wishing to astonish their fashionable friends have 
actually claimed to import such shellfish from Britain. The 
real fish for the epicure, notwithstanding, is by common con- 
fession the noble mullet. The flavor of the best specimens 
is ravishing, and, for a truly large and perfect mullet, the 
prices paid are astonishing. It is a common story that a 
certain Crispinus, a satellite of Domitian's, once gave 6000 ses- 
terces ($240) for a single six-pound mullet ; " More than 
the cost of the slave-fisherman !" indignantly exclaimed the 
outraged Juvenal. 

iSee "A Day in Old Athens," p. 20. 

Food and Drink 107 

Many great nobles, however, disdain having to depend on 
the public markets. At their seaside villas they have huge 
salt-water tanks and artificial fishponds; therein mullet, 
turbot, carp, and eels can be bred, fattened, and brought to 
perfection, and on the day of a feast a slave will hurry them 
up to Rome still gasping. 

88. Olive Oil and Wine : Their Universal Use. Supple- 
menting the salt fish and bread, the poor of the capital, like 
all genuine Mediterranean folk, seldom fail to get their oil 
and wine. Olives are gladly eaten green, ripened, or pre- 
served in great quantities with salt or pickle, but their great- 
est v,alue comes from their oil." To Rome as to Athens olive 
oil is not merely food ; it largely takes the place of toilet soap, 
and it supplies also the most common illuminant (see " A 
Day in Old Athens," p. 177). It is a complete substitute for 
butter in the average dietary, often making dry or moldy 
bread palatable, and as earlier stated (p. 98), it is the basis 
for most of the ointments and perfumery wherein the average 
citizen delights. 

As for drink, practically every Roman has his wine. There 
are, indeed, beverages made from wheat and barley, and also 
from fermented quince juice, but for daily purposes beer 
and distilled liquors never appear at Italian banquets. Cider 
is sometimes drunk, and a little so-called " wine " made from 
mulberries ; but the enormous vineyards existing in every 
part of the country testify to the importance of ordinary 
grape wine. 

Vintners' stalls are almost as common along the streets 
as bakeries. The drink they sell in jars, skins, or small 
flagons is sometimes decidedly resinous after the Greek fash- 
ion, and in any case is extremely sour, so that a large admix- 
ture of honey is often required to make the favorite sweet 
mulsum. In any case only sheer barbarians will drink their 
wine undiluted, and really good wine can stand as much as 

108 A Day in Old Rome 

eight parts of water to one of itself without losing too much 

89. Vintages and Varieties of Wine. There are as many 
varieties of wine as there are regions around the Mediter- 
ranean. Each produces a vintage that is tolerable, and some 
are highly select. Your average poor plebeian can get a large 
jug of palatable stuff for a sesterce (4 cents). The wealthy 
will think nothing of paying heavily for amphor (tall jars) 
of choice old Setinian (the best wine in Italy), or for Faler- 
nian, Albanian, or Massic which count next among the native 
vintages. If, however, you are giving a formal dinner party, 
etiquette dictates that at least one imported drink should be 
served. It makes an excellent impression to bring in Chian, 
Thasian, or Lesbian from the ^Egean, or even Mareotian from 
Egypt and the splendid Chalybonium from Damascus, the 
delight of Oriental kings. 

In summer time wines, of course, are drunk cold, and at 
luxurious banquets they are even chilled with snow water. 
In winter, however, you will often see a kind of bronze samo- 
var, heated by charcoal, used for preparing calda, warm 
water and wine, heavily charged with spices ; and at the 
cheap eating houses the calda counter is often thronged, 
especially on chilly afternoons. Common soldiers, slaves, 
and plebeians of the lowest class have a special beverage all 
their own, namely posca, which is simply vinegar mixed 
with enough water to make it palatable. It probably 
forms a really refreshing drink, if one can acquire the taste 
for it. 1 

Time fails to tell of various rare vintages which are treas- 
ured by the epicures as if worth their weight in gold. In 
121 B.C. there was a wonderful yield of wine called Vina 
Opimia from the then Consul Opimius. By Hadrian's day 

1 Posca was probably the drink in which the sponge was steeped, that 
was extended to Jesus as He hung on the cross. 

Food and Drink 109 

the last drops of this precious liquor have long since dis- 
appeared, but men still discuss the traditions of its nectarous 
flavor. In every great house the wine cellar retains a number 
of web-covered and dirty glass jars carefully sealed with 
gypsum, and with labels showing that they were laid away 
perhaps a hundred years ago. As for the undesirability 
of wine-drinking, that idea has hardly crossed any man's 
head ; and Horace in Augustus's day voiced a universal 
thought when he sang that good wine, " Made the wise con- 
fess their secret lore; brought hope to anxious souls, and 
gave the poor strength to lift up his horn." 

90. Kitchens and the Niceties of Cookery. With such 
attention to good eating and drinking a Roman kitchen 
necessarily requires an elaborate equipment. Cook stoves 
there are none; but there are extensive masonry or brick 
hearths. The charcoal fire heats the stones until a broad 
surface is glowing and ready for remarkable culinary 
achievements. The head cook in Calvus's house rejoices 
in a great battery of copper utensils often of truly elegant 
shape; and copper ware (more expensive than tin, but far 
more durable) appears in every Roman kitchen. There are 
pastry molds, dippers, ladles, great spoons, little spoons, 
baking pans for small cakes, in short, everything to delight 
the heart of the housewife of another age. 

Nobody expects us to investigate rudely the peculiar dishes 
evolved in the kitchen of a genuine gourmand. Cookery, 
the disciples of Apicius aver, is not a common handicraft, but 
the noblest of sciences. Only a thrice-initiated epicure, a 
man who has carefully trained his tongue to discriminate the 
least shades of taste, and his fingers to endure hot viands so 
that he may pluck out the morsels at precisely the proper 
temperature, can appreciate many of the refinements. 

Calvus laughs, indeed, at a friend of his who lately insisted 
on serving " a wild boar from Lucania caught when the South 

110 A Day in Old Rome 

wind was blowing," with " honey apples picked under a 
waning moon," and " lampreys caught just before spawning." 
Such people will also explain dogmatically that " eggs of 
oblong shape have better flavor than round ones ; " and that 
" after drinking wine the appetite is better stimulated by 
dried ham than by boiled sausage/' or that " it spoils the 
flavor of Massic wine to strain it through linen ; but you can 
clear it by mixing with the lees of Falernian and then adding 
the yolk of a pigeon's egg." x A new dish coming loyally into 
favor is that to which Hadrian is personally so partial a 
huge meat pie wherein pheasant, peacock, sow's udder, and 
wild-boar flesh are all baked up together. 

Needless to say many coarse fellows who boast themselves 
" epicures " really are merely gluttons. Their appetites have 
become simply animal. Rome has plenty of twin-brothers 
to that Santra derided by Martial, who at a banquet " asked 
three times for boar's neck, four times for the loin, then for 
hare, thrushes, and oysters." After that he bolted sweet 
cakes, and finally devoid of all decency hid some fruit and a 
cooked dove in the folds of his gown and sneaked home with 
a small jar of wine ! 

91. A Roman Gentleman's Morning : Breakfast (jenta- 
culum) and the Visit to the Forum. However, even gluttons 
like Santra spend all the earlier part of the day under condi- 
tions of relative abstemiousness. Romans never eat three 
hearty meals a day ; they merely stay their stomachs until 
dinner, the event they ordinarily look forward to from early 
morning. In Calvus's house everybody is supposed to rise 
at gray dawn. Just as the first bars of light are making 
darkness visible a decuria (squad of ten) of slaves under a 
chamberlain (atriensis) brushes down the atrium and peristyl- 
ium before the master and mistress rise and are dressed by 

1 A long and curious list of gourmand's precepts are enumerated iron- 
ically by Horace in a familiar Satire (Sat., bk. II, 4). 

Food and Drink 111 

their body servants. As promptly as possible these noble 
folk are served, often in their chambers, with their breakfast, 
the jentaculum merely a few pieces of fine bread, sprinkled 
with salt or dipped in wine, and with a few raisins and olives, 
and a little cheese added. If Calvus is now expecting to go 
on a journey or to put in a hard day debating in the Senate, 
he may however call for some eggs and a cup of heartening 

After that, the clients are let into the atrium, greet their 
patron with their aves, receive his counter greetings, and get 
their money doles for service (see p. 150). Next, upon an or- 
dinary day, Calvus calls for one of his second-best togas, and 
issues forth. If the Senate is convening, he, of course, seeks 
the Curia. If not, he will often visit his banker upon the 
Via Sacra to talk over investments, will call at the mansion 
of a sick friend, will go to witness a will for another friend 
(a very familiar ceremony), or will go to one of the Basilicas, 
where still another friend is arguing a case, and expects all his 
best acquaintance the more distinguished the better to 
sit near him and applaud as he makes his points. During 
all these rounds Calvus is, of course, followed by some two 
dozen clients and freedmen as well as by at least as many 

92. The Afternoon and Dinner-Time. Importance of the 
Dinner (cena). After that it is near the sixth hour (12 M.). 
All over Rome work ceases almost automatically ; the poorer 
classes make for the cook shops or itinerant food venders; 
while people of rank either go home or accept the hospitality 
of friends for the mid-day lunch, the prandium. This is a 
real meal, although taken as informally as possible. The 
food is mostly cold, bread, salads, olives, cheeses, and 
meats remaining from last night's dinner; although some- 
times there are hot dishes, such as hams and pigs' heads, and 
a good deal of common wine is drunk. 

112 A Day in Old Rome 

During the next hour everybody who can possibly spare the 
time takes a short siesta. Rome, in fact, in summer seems to 
have gone to sleep under the glaring sun. Then for the hum- 
bler folk toil resumes ; while the fortunate classes make for 
the great baths where, indeed, under the guise of sociability 
a great deal of real business can be transacted. By the ninth 
hour (3. P.M.) Calvus and Gratia alike have usually finished 
all the formal duties for the day and are being escorted home- 
ward preparatory to the standard climax of every four-and- 
twenty hours the dinner. 

The dinner (cena) is always eaten at home or at the house 
of some friend. It is so strictly personal an affair that there 
are almost no first-class, handsomely appointed, public res- 
taurants in Rome, although there is a superabundance of 
cheaper eating houses, yet many of these close up during the 
afternoon. There are almost no other evening entertain- 
ments no receptions, no balls, no theaters, no concerts. 1 
But Italians in every age have been a sociable, talk-loving, 
gregarious people, and the dinner seems to many of them 
apparently the " be all and end all " of existence. 

93. Dinner Hunters and Parasites (" Shadows "). 
Wealthy and popular personages never have to bother about 
the dinner problem ; every night they can invite whom they 
desire, or be sure of a summons to a congenial board. Plenty 
of substantial citizens are willing and happy to join in a sim- 
ple family meal in the good old style, the master reclining on 
a couch, with his wife in a somewhat more conventional atti- 
tude beside him, the younger children sitting on a lower couch, 
the freedmen and more important slaves arranged on benches 
at a respectful distance. 

1 The very imperfect means of illumination alone available with olive- 
oil lamps, would make many modern evening entertainments out of the 
question. The ancient lamps were beautiful in shape but utterly ineffec- 
tive for lighting large halls, indoor theaters, etc. 

Food and Drink 113 

The city nevertheless abounds in shabby-genteel individ- 
uals or social climbers who are miserable every afternoon 
because some senator or an eques does not tell them, " Come 
home to dinner ! " For example, there is a certain ubiqui- 
tous Selius. He hangs about the law courts, and if a pleader 
is rich and noble, is always interrupting with a loud " Excel- 
lent ! " or " How clever ! " Some afternoons, however, he 
is seen dragging about, " the picture of misery." Has his 
wife just died or his steward embezzled? Not so. He 
" must dine alone at home." Thus there develops a type of 
high-class parasites, " shadows" men of thick hide and nimble 
wit who snap at every possible excuse for thrusting into a 
dinner party, and who are willing to pay for the least honored 
place on the couches by becoming the butts of the jests, or 
by bringing laughter on themselves by such feats as swallow- 
ing whole cheese cakes at a mouthful. 

94. The Standard Dinner Party Nine Guests. In 
Athens in other days a delightful informality prevailed at 
banquets. The number of guests was seldom fixed, and it 
was quite proper to intrude two or three more at the last 
minute. Romans are more grave, methodical, and, be it 
said, more commonplace. The standard size for a dinner 
party is determined by an almost inflexible custom nine. 
Three couches, three guests to a couch ; that number can 
concentrate around a single set of serving tables, and let 
everybody mingle easily in the conversation. 

Of course, you can get along with fewer guests, but it is 
the height of meanness to have more than three to a couch. 
For a larger affair one must therefore have two or three or 
more triclinia, eighteen or twenty-seven guests, etc. Un- 
like Athens, however, it is perfectly proper to invite high-born 
ladies to mixed dinner parties, although not to the free and 
easy drinking bouts that sometimes follow ; and the women 
apparently recline on the couches with perfect decorum and 

114 A Day in Old Rome 

modesty. Nevertheless, " stag " parties are extremely com- 
mon, and one such, of a very conventional nature, Calvus 
gave recently in honor of a friend, Manlius, who was just 
departing as proqucestor (assistant governor) of Africa. 

95. Preparing the Dinner and Mustering the Guests. 
The guests were invited by personal greetings at the Forum 
or Baths of Trajan except one who had to be summoned by 
slave messenger at his home. However two places on the 
couches have been left vacant deliberately to let Manlius 
invite any two acquaintances he desired a frequent pre- 
rogative of the guest of honor. The dinner was to be a 
strictly decorous affair, and, therefore, it did not begin before 
the tenth hour (4 P.M.). If Calvus had desired a carouse, he 
might have begun a"t 3 P.M. in order to get plenty of leeway 
for a long riotous evening ; but " early dinners " are ordi- 
narily as great a reproach in Rome as " late dinners " will 
be later. 

During the morning while the master-cook was tyrannizing 
over his scullions in the kitchen, and evolving various tri- 
umphs in pastry, the chamberlain, an upper-slave, was stand- 
ing whip in hand over a whole platoon of lower slaves, giving 
orders like a centurion : " Sweep and scrub the pavement !" 
" Polish up those pillars ! " " Down with all those spider 
webs 1 " " One of you clean the plain silver ware, and another 
the embossed dishes ! " The whole mansion, therefore, was 
furbished up thoroughly, for a few signs of dirt before dinner 
guests is the most disgraceful of shortcomings. 

By the tenth hour the triclinium was in perfect order. 
The three elegant sofas with purple cushions embroidered 
with gold thread were arranged around the finest citrus-wood 
table. Small pillows were laid upon the cushions to mark the 
positions of the feasters and for them to thrust under their 
elbows as they lay and ate. Presently the street before the 
vestibule became jammed with the retinues of the eight 

Food and Drink 115 

guests as each swung up in his litter. Calvus greeted each 
of the invited friends in the atrium, while the bulk of their 
escorts turned back home to return again with torches when 
the party should be over ; but each guest was followed into 
the house by his own special valet, who took off his shoes as 
soon as he stretched himself out upon the couch, and then 
stood by to help Calvus's servants serve his own master. 
The triclinium was thus a decidedly crowded place, with eight 
strange slaves present, besides a mobilization of aH the hand- 
somest and most efficient of the house servants. 

96. Arrangement of the Couches : Placing the Guests. 
The guests were each in the gay synthesis or other gala cos- 
tume, and quite in the mood to obey the grave nomendater, 
a handsome and experienced slave of the host who pointed 
out to each his place on the couches. This location of feast- 
ers, however, was an extremely solemn business. How many 
social feuds have been created by blunders concerning it! 
Nay, if the guest chances to be a public character, a certain 
position is really a matter of legal right to many dignitaries 
and its refusal possibly can give matter for a lawsuit. 1 The 
three couches were set around three sides of the table, the 
fourth being left open for the service. Approaching from 
the open side that couch to the right was reckoned the first 
(summus), then the middle one opposite (medius), then the 
one on the left (imus). 

The best place of all was reckoned to be the third position 
on the middle couch " The Consul's Post/' 2 and here, of 
course, Manlius was consigned. Calvus by custom took the 
host's place, on the third couch, but nearest the guest of 

1 The love of "first-seats" at feasts, denounced in the New Testament, 
was anything but a strictly Jewish vice ; Greeks and Romans were every 
whit as bad as Orientals. 

1 So given because here dispatches, etc., could be most readily handed 
to a consul or other great officer if he were among the guests. 

116 A Day in Old Rome 

honor. The distribution of the other places was a matter for 
great discrimination, but peace was kept by placing the two 
African gentlemen whom Manlius brought, upon the middle 
couch beside him, and setting the young eques Nepos (the 
junior of the company) at the outer end of the third couch. 
All nine, therefore, spread themselves out unconventionally 
and chattered about the newest jockeys in the circus, while 
a troupe of slave-boys, half -stripped but pomaded and curled, 
passed around silver bowls of water and fine towels for wash- 
ing and wiping the hands. 1 This ceremony happily accom- 


plished, a tall upper slave magnificently arrayed nodded 
from the doorway to Calvus that the cook had declared him- 
self ready, and Calvus nodded back his approval. The din- 
ner could begin. 

97. Serving the Dinner. The giver of this feast only 
desired a grave and conventional dinner for sedate people, 
and a strictly normal order was followed without epicurean 
niceties or a low revel as a climax. No tablecloths ; the serv- 

1 Sometimes a guest's personal valet brought a special towel for his 
own master. Diners of an objectionable variety were occasionally 
charged with stealing the towels or napkins if the host supplied them. 

Food and Drink 117 

ing boys running to and from the kitchen set on the beau- 
tiful polished surface of the table before the guests first a 
preliminary course, the gustatio, supposed to stimulate the 
appetite. On silver dishes were served some choice crabs, 
salads, mushrooms, and also eggs. The guests ate these 
without forks, dexterously picking up the food in their fin- 
gers. The handsomely embossed silver cups were handed 
about filled with sweet mulsum properly diluted hi order 
not to befuddle the intellect ; after that followed the formal 
dinner itself. 

At really elaborate feasts there would be six or even seven 
courses, but Calvus had merely ordered the orthodox number 
of three a succession of daintily cooked meats and fish 
tastily garnished with vegetables, but with no rarities such as 
heathcock from Phrygia 
or sturgeon from Rhodes. 
The honor of the house, 
however, required that 
every viand should be ROMAN SERVING FORKS. ~ 

arranged carefully on its 

dish, and every dish upon its tray by a special slave, the 
structor, a true artist, who also acted as master carver, cut- 
ting up a roast of boar with his knife keeping time to a 
flute-player. The mere fact, however, that one man was 
allowed both to arrange the dishes and then to do the carv- 
ing was a sign that Calvus was among the less ostentatious 

Between each course water and towels were again passed 
about, and the guests washed their hands. Finally for dessert 
there was brought on a great quantity of curious pastry 
artificial oysters and thrushes filled with dried grapes and 
almonds ; and a great dish whereon stood an image, made of 
baked dough, of the orchard god Vertumnus, holding a pastry 
apron full of fruits, while heaped around his feet were sweet 

118 A Day in Old Rome 

quinces stuck full of almonds, and melons cut into fantastic 
shapes. 1 

98. The Drinking Bout (Comissatio) after the Dinner. 
This concluded the regular dinner, but Calvus had invited 
his friends (since Manlius had much to talk about) to stay 
to a comissatio, a social drinking spell afterwards. The nine 
guests rose and adjourned to the host's private baths, whence, 
after they had refreshed themselves and taken a turn around 
the colonnades in the peristylium, they returned to the tri- 
clinium to find that the slaves had changed all the couch 

covers and pillows, had 
swept the floor, and had 
actually brought in new 
tables. It was now quite 
dark, beautiful silver 
lamps gleamed on high 
against the fretwork of 
the ceiling and on the 
tall inlaid sideboard 

DRINKING CUP. stood two reat silver 

tankards ; one was filled 

with snow ; 2 the other had a charcoal brazier beneath it and 
steamed with hot water. 

If Calvus's party had now been composed of younger 
merrymakers, some one would have called out, " Let's drink 
in the ( Greek style ' and elect a king" ; and everybody would 
have joined in throwing dice to select tlie rex, or lord of the 
revels. That potentate would have been obligated to decide 
how much water was to be mixed with the wine, and how 

1 This, of course, was a very simple private dinner. For the menu of a 
really extensive banquet, see the citation from Macrobius, in the writer's 
"Readings in Ancient History," Vol. II (Rome), p. 253. 

2 Brought, of course, from the summits of the Apennines with infinite 

Food and Drink 119 

many cups must be drunk to the health of each feaster's 
lady love, and to arrange the forfeits, riddles, and practical 
jokes inseparable from a jolly evening. If the party had been 
still more uproarious, Spanish dancing girls might have been 
provided by the host, or a corps of pantomimes, acrobats, or 
farce players, and the whole scene could have ended in a very 
coarse orgy. 

In the present case Calvus had decided to let his friends 
merely drink enough to loosen their tongues and to exchange 
their best wit and wisdom. The slaves, therefore, brought in 
with decent solemnity the little images of the family lares, 
and a small smoking brazier, and Calvus ^ast a trifle of meal 
and salt and a few drops of wine upon the fire. " The gods 
are propitious ! " announced a Slave in loud voice, after which 
the guests preserved a reverent silence for an instant, to be 
followed by vigorous conversation the moment the divine 
images were carried out. 

99. Distribution of Garlands and Perfumes. Social Con- 
versation. While one corps of slaves was passing about the 
wine, asking each guest whether " Hot?" or " Cold?" others 
were distributing wreaths of fragrant flowers, to put on the 
forehead and even around the neck (by their odor supposedly 
preventing drunkenness) and also little alabaster vials of 
choice perfumes which the guests immediately broke and 
poured upon their hands and hair. Then followed long con- 
versations, grave or gay according to the mood. Calvus had 
not provided any professional entertainers, but all through 
the drinking a good flute-player and a good harpist hid be- 
hind a curtain kept up a soft pleasing melody. 

While Manlius and the older guests discussed the control of 
the Moorish tribes of Numidia, young Nepos and one or two 
others found much to say about a new " Thracian " who had 
just fought at the Flavian Amphitheater, and presently all 
the others pressed the host (knowing him to be a little vain 

120 A Day in Old Rome 

on the subject) to show some new moves in " robbers " 
(latrunculi, a board game with men extremely like checkers) 
which he had evolved with peculiar pride. It would have 
been good form also to have played at making impromptu 
verses, or at matching riddles, but for a Roman gentleman to 
indulge in anything like singing a song, even before a group 
of friends, would have been undignified; Nero possibly 
shocked public opinion even more by appearing openly as a 
common theater performer than he did by killing his mother ! 

At last the evening ended. It was only 8 o'clock by later 
reckoning ; but everybody had to be up again by gray dawn. 
The streets were already dark and deserted save by prowlers 
and the police-watch. te My shoes, boy," called Manlius 
to his valet. All the other guests imitated him, and already 
their retinues with slaves and torches were crowding in the 
vestibule. The eight diners departed after thanking Calvus. 
The slaves cleared out the triclinium, and quenched the lights. 
Soon the whole domus was asleep. 

100. Elaborate and Vulgar Banquets. Simple Home 
Dinners. Such was a very decorous and ordinary dinner. 
It could easily have run off to greater follies and vastly greater 
magnificence, useless to describe. Space lacks, also, to de- 
scribe the magnificent imperial banquets at the palace when all 
the gold, glitter, and luxury of the capital is on display. Cal- 
vus is no great philosopher, or he might have followed the 
mode and insisted upon his guests conversing solely about 
the " Stoic Conception of Duty" ; or the " Immortality of 
the Soul." 

A host of another type might have imitated certain very 
mean patrons who would invite poor clients to fill up the tri- 
clinium and then deliberately serve them with cheap wine 
and coarse scrappy food, while the best was being set before 
himself and the guests of honor. Such great men were also 
equal to pettiness of stationing special slaves behind each 

Food and Drink 121 

less-favored guest to watch lest the latter should with his 
finger nails pick out the gems set in the drinking cups. Pliny 
the Younger has already recorded his emphatic opinion of 
noblemen who will not serve dependents with as good fare 
as they get themselves, declaring that if the host must 
economize, he should eat and drink nothing better that night 
than what he gives his clients and freedmen. 

Of course, many an evening meal is far simpler than the one 
just described. If the triclinium is not full, Calvus and 
Gratia may sometimes offer their near acquaintances merely 
" some lettuce, three snails, two eggs, spelt mixed with honey 
and snow, olives from Spain, cucumbers, onions, and a few 
like delicacies." Old Roman simplicity still but every 
dish will be perfect of its kind, and the cookery excellent; 
and even the modest Calvi are none too fond of this diet 
praised by the philosophers. Rome is not merely the mistress 
of the world, she is the citadel of the gourmands. 


101. Enormous Alien Population in Rome. The " Grae- 
cules." Rome, as already discovered, is a city with an 
enormous cosmopolitan population, and in that population 
is a sadly large proportion of drones, parasites, and selfish 
purveyors to the vices or luxuries of the rich. The influx 
of aliens, of course, impresses one at every turn, be the visit 
to obscure Mercury Street or to the famous Old Forum. 
*' The Syrian Orontes (quoting lines of Juvenal hackneyed 
already) has long since poured into the Tiber, bringing its 
lingo and its manners, its flutes and its timbals, and its 
coarse girls who hang around the Circus." 

A large fraction of these invaders, however, are not con- 
fessed Orientals, but oli vine-featured, nimble creatures of 
very Levantine morality who like to be called " Greeks." 
The poet, just cited, has other familiar lines deriding their 
suppleness, servility, and willingness for any shift promising 
favor or reward. The self-same adventurer is ready to be 
"" grammarian, orator, geometrician, painter, trainer, rope- 
dancer, augur, doctor, or astrologer," or if you bid " ' Grse- 
culus ' to mount to heaven why, to heaven he'll go!'" 
They squeeze out tears or split with laughter at a sign, and, 
of course, they readily sell themselves for any well-paid 

Do these creatures prosper? If so, Roman citizenship 
comes next. They change their names, assume the toga, 
and their sons or at least their grandsons will be borne along 
in their high litters toward the Senate House. There is 


The Slaves 123 

another large group of " Conscript Fathers " who, Calvus 
angrily tells Gratia, are only crude Celts from Spain, Gaul, 
or even distant Britain. Another group can only speak 
Latin with a pronounced North African accent. There is 
even a certain dark-skinned " Julius " (a good Roman name 
surely), who wears his broad purple stripe proudly enough, 
but who, every one swears, was born far up the Nile in 
Egypt " How did he get the Emperor's favor ! " At first 
thought, therefore, Rome seems one of the most democratic 
cities socially in the world. 

102. Strict Divisions of Society. The Regime of Status. 
But closer acquaintance discloses the fact that Roman 
society is utterly undemocratic. Wealth to be sure can sur- 
mount many barriers, but even a hundred-million sesterces 
plus imperial patronage cannot quite do everything. The 
whole Roman Empire is founded not on the basis of human 
brotherhood and equality, but on " piety" " Pious JSneas " 
is the hero of the national epic poem. But what in fact is 
this piety? Not the rendering of due homage to the gods 
merely, but the bestowing of exact justice upon every man 
according to his status the great stratum in society in 
which the law has placed him, and whence he can neither 
rise nor fall without important formalities. Are you brought 
into court? Instantly the question is, "What are you?" 
And on that answer, regardless of guilt or innocence, your 
fate will largely depend. 

The Roman Empire in reality is essentially a regime of 
status giving to every man a certain social and legal due. 
This accent on status has been increasing ever since Augustus 
founded his dominion ; and it will intensify even more rapidly 
down to the very end of the Empire. 

In the 1,500,000 odd people in Rome, there are these 
six well-defined social classes, each with a distinct legal 
condition : X Slaves; II. Freedmen; III. Free Provincials; 

124 A Day in Old Rome 

IV. Ordinary Roman Citizens, or " Plebeians "; V. Equites; 
VI. Senators. In Rome the third class, of course, is necessa- 
rily small, being made up solely of visitors and resident aliens, 
some of whom, if notables from such free allied towns as 
Athens, enjoy excellent protection and privileges. Nearly 
all the freedmen are technically Roman citizens but are 
still under certain civil and social disabilities. The Plebeians, 
Equites, and Senators are all reckoned officially as " ma- 
jores," persons with superior legal rights, however much the 
two upper orders may scorn the one inferior. Socially, how- 
ever, there are many cross sections, with the upper slaves 
of rich noblemen despising the petty tradesmen, who wear 
moth-eaten togas, and the higher " Csesarians " (slaves at 
the imperial palace) have been known to patronize equites 
and even senators. 

103. Vast Number of Slaves. Universality of Slavery. 

The slaves, however, are always officially at the bottom of 
the human ladder. Their number is great, making up 
close to half, if not quite half, of the population of Rome. 
They are not required to wear a special dress. 1 Some years 
ago it was proposed to order this in the Senate, but the mo- 
tion was voted down : "It would be dangerous to show the 
wretches how numerous they really were." Ordinarily 
they go about in sad-colored tunics and long cloaks like most 
of the common citizens, or else they wear some bright livery 
devised by their masters. 

Only a few of these unfortunates have Italian countenances 
and can speak Latin without some foreign accent. Plenty 
of alien adventurers, it is true, drift to Rome as willingly, but 
probably the great bulk of the cosmopolitan multitudes 
everywhere observable, even if free at present, come to 

1 They could not, of course, wear the toga, or, if female slaves, the 
matronly stola. 

The Slaves 125 

Latium involuntarily as slaves imported to wait on the 
masters of the world. 

Almost no one has questioned the rightfulness and necessity 
of slavery. Seneca, indeed, has written that no man can be 
enslaved beyond a certain point his body is his master's, 
but his mind is his own. Horace has written grandiloquently 
" Who is truly free ? The wise man alone ; who is stern 
master of himself." This sounds well but does not alter 
the practical results of a situation wherein, for example, all 
farm implements are solemnly classified in the handbooks 
under three heads : I. Dumb tools plows, mattocks, 
shovels, etc. ; II. Semi-speaking tools oxen, asses, etc., 
that can bellow or bray ; III. Speaking tools slaves useful 
as farm hands. 

104. Power of Master over Slaves. Until very lately, 
before Hadrian's time, these " Speaking Tools " have had 
rather less legal protection than may be granted to horses by 
the " humane " legislation of later civilization. The reigning 
Emperor, however, a remarkable innovator, and tinctured 
with the Stoic philosophy, has lately issued an edict that a 
slave cannot be killed outright by his master without some 
kind of consent by a magistrate. 

Every owner of human bipeds has probably grumbled 
that " discipline is now made impossible," but the new law 
is of little practical help to the slave. His master can still 
order a punishment so brutal that death is certain, and if 
he should murder a servant, slave witnesses can give no valid 
testimony, and almost no citizen will turn traitor to his 
class and prosecute. Half of Rome, therefore, continues 
in the absolute power and possession of the other half. 

105. The City Slaves and the Country Slaves. Calvus 
and Gratia have a familia of about one hundred and fifty 
slaves in their city house. Scattered upon their villas there 

126 A Day in Old Rome 

are always at least as many more, but between the city 
slaves and the rustic slaves there is a great gulf fixed. The 
first class utterly despises the latter. The city slaves are 
mostly soft-handed ministers to their owners' luxuries. The 
country slaves are toiling farm hands often under extremely 
severe discipline. When the master, attended by a great 
retinue from his town house, sojourns at a villa, squabbling 
and even fights between the two contingents are extremely 
probable. Let a serving boy become too insolent, or a tiring 
maid fail in her duty the master or mistress can simply 
order, " Send him or her to the villa ! " The wretch will 
then beg instead to be flogged in sheer mercy. Banishment 
to the rustic slave colony seems a mere death in life. 

106. Purchasing a Slave Boy. In any large city familia, 
the purchase of new slaves to replace vacancies caused by 
death or otherwise is an everyday occurrence. Very lately 
a new errand boy was wanted by Calvus, who could not con- 
descend to purchase such a menial in person ; and he left 
the task to a competent freedman, Oleander. The latter 
conscientiously went through the great slave bazaars near 
the fora and especially along the Ssepta Julia, the great 
porticoes lining the Via Lata. 

Here any quantity of human bipeds were on sale as in a 
regular cattle market. There were numbers of little stalls 
or pens with crowds of buyers or mere spectators constantly 
elbowing in and out, and from many of them rose a gross 
fleshly odor as from closely confined animals. At the en- 
trance to these pens notices, written on white boards with 
red chalk, recited the nature of the slaves inside, and some- 
times the hour when they would be sold at auction. Every 
nationality was represented among these vendable com- 
modities Egyptians, Moors, Arabs, Cilicians, Cappado- 
cians, Thracians, Greeks and alleged Greeks, Celts from 
Gaul, Spain, and Britain, and a goad many Teutons, fair- 

The Slaves 127 

haired creatures from beyond the Rhine. They were of 
both sexes and of all ages, but with youths and grown-up 
girls predominating. As Oleander went about he heard a 
crier announcing that a new coffle of Jews was just being put 
on sale, the results of the latest success of the Emperor's 
generals in capturing one of the last rebellious strongholds 
in Palestine. 

107. Traffic in the Slave Pens. It avails not to dwell 
on the hideous brutality and degrading character of many 
of the scenes. The slave-dealers were men counted the scum 
of the earth socially, but the vast gains from lucky specula- 
tion in human flesh drove many shrewd scoundrels into the 
trade. At last Oleander found the stall he desired. Several 
boys from the Black Sea region were about to be knocked 
down. They did not seem so very miserable. Truth to 
tell their barbarous parents had probably sold them in way 
of regular trade, and the boys looked forward to entering a 
fine Roman familia as a great adventure. 

The lads stood in line on raised stones, stripped almost 
naked and with white chalk on their feet as a token that 
they were for immediate sale. Oleander and other would-be 
purchasers examined them as they might so many cattle; 
felt of their muscles, examined their teeth, and made them 
converse enough to be sure they could speak fair Greek and 
a little Latin. Another buying agent was accompanied by a 
physician to give the proffered merchandise a regular physical 
examination, and Oleander in his turn interrogated the 
selling clerks very specifically : " Did they warrant the 
health of a certain boy, especially his freedom from fits? 
Was he thievish ? Was he prone to run away ? Did he get 
despondent and attempt suicide ? " l 

1 The ancients had intense fear of epilepsy, supposedly a visitation of 
the gods. The questions given were the points on which slave-venders 
had to give assurance, or formally to waive all responsibility. 

128 A Day in Old Rome 

One ill-favored youth was standing with a tall felt hat on 
his head. That implied he was being sold " as is," without 
the least warranty; "An incorrigible thief" went the 
whisper, and the great welts on his back betrayed repeated 
whippings. If the sellers failed, however, to " cap " their 
chattels, they had to answer all queries truthfully, and take 
back the slave if he developed various defects within six 
months. Such a liability, however, was hard to enforce. 
A slave trade involved all the points of shrewdness, hard 
bargaining, and smooth prevarication of the proverbial horse 

108. Sale of Slaves. At last a bell rang. A boy whom 
Oleander had inspected approvingly was stood on a higher 
block. The glib auctioneer began his patter to the little 
group before him : " The lad's clear-skinned and well-fa- 
vored from head to foot, a well-bred fellow carefully trained 
for good service. Has a smattering of Greek learning 
you can educate him for a secretary if you want to. He 
can also sing a bit at dinners not professionally, but 
enough to make you jolly over your wine. All this is sheer 
and simple truth. You'll wait long for another such bargain. 
Just one point (with a deprecatory smirk) I am obliged to 
warn about once he did have a lazy fit, and hid himself 
for fear of a lashing, Well, he's yours for a mere 8000 
sesterces." [$320.1 l 

"Take 2000," stolidly retorted Oleander, naming the 
standard price for male slaves of no extra qualities. Counter 
bidding and much chaffering followed. All ended when 
" Croesus " (slaves were often given fancy oriental names) 
was knocked down to Cleander for 4000 sesterces ($160), 
a very fair bargain if the youth had not been praised too 

1 This is almost precisely the slave auctioneer's speech in Horace. 
{Epodes, bk. II, 1.) If the dealer had failed to mention that the boy 
had once tried to run away, he would have been legally liable. 

The Slaves 129 

extravagantly. On the same errand the freedman also pur- 
chased for his master a stout Gaul, needed as an expert mule- 
teer on one of the farm villas, such a fellow if at all capable 
was well worth the 6000 sesterces asked for him. 

The next day, however, it was announced by Gratia that 
she required a first-class lady's maid, a girl not merely 
versed in all toilet mysteries, but comely to look upon should 
she have to appear with her mistress in public. Such dam- 
sels commanded a high price, and Gratia and Calvus to- 
gether condescended to do the shopping. Along the Ssepta 
Julia they visited special booths, from which vulgar idlers 
were carefully excluded, and where human chattels of the 
superior grades were shown to bona fide purchasers. 

The dealer whom they visited had handsome slave boys 
to act as statuesque cup bearers and worth up to 100,000 
sesterces ($4000) apiece; he also had a truly competent 
physician at the same price; a good private schoolmaster; 
two very expert dancers, and a remarkably fine cook just 
thrown on the market by a bankrupt ex-consul. Girls fit 
for kitchen service could be had in the common stalls as cheap 
as 1000 sesterces ($40) ; but Gratia and her husband had to 
pay a round 25,000 ($1000) for a truly pretty little Greek, 
who was a dexterous hair-dresser and who could read aloud 
to her mistress with a good Attic accent. 

109. Size of Slave Households (Familix). Slave Work- 
men. Thus the familia of the Calvi has been made up. 
People complain that owing to the surcease of great wars the 
supply of cheap slaves fit for farm service is running down. 
Great landowners are actually being driven to fall back on 
free hired labor or a system of tenantry ; but kidnapping, 
the sale of children by their barbarian parents, the ceaseless 
petty wars in Africa, Asia, and along the Rhine, as well as 
the sale of slaves born and bred on the Roman farms or 

130 A Day in Old Rome 

mansions themselves 1 keep up a sufficient supply for do- 
mestic service. 

The very poor plebeians are, of course, slaveless and ser- 
vantless, and plenty of small tradesmen or minor officials get 
along with only two or three slaves-of -all-work ; but it is im- 
possible to be a " somebody " and to exist in Rome without 
at least ten slaves. The social ladder and the size of the f amilise 
ascend together until we find senators and very rich equites 
who boast many more than two hundred in their city houses 
alone. " How many slaves has he got ? " is the regular for- 
mula for asking " What's his fortune ? " In Augustus's 
day there was a very wealthy freedman who owned 4116 
slaves, although the majority of these were scattered on his 
numerous farms ; but well known is the story of Pedanius 
Secundus, City Praefect under Nero: One of his slaves 
murdered him, and by the harsh old law making the entire 
f amilia liable for the killing of its master by one member, all 
of the slaves in his Roman mansion, almost 400 in number, 
were actually put to death, although his farm slaves were 

There are many slaves, however, in Rome that are not 
strictly servants. They act as craftsmen and tradesmen 
of every kind, sometimes hired out by their masters to con- 
tractors, sometimes working on their own account. Custom, 
though not law, entitles them to a part of their earnings ; 
this is their peculium (" special property ") and only a very 
harsh owner will deprive them of it. Indeed it is clearly 
understood that an intelligent slave cannot be expected to 
do his best without a personal incentive. You can even find 
savings banks and really large commercial enterprises run 
by slaves, often put in positions of great trust, but such 

1 Probably, however, it would be counted discreditable to sell a slave 
born in one's house (a vema) unless the fellow was wholly reprobate, or 
the master was in great financial straits. 

The Slaves 131 

persons undoubtedly have an understanding about being 
manumitted if they are faithful and successful. 

110. Division of Duties and Organization of Slave 
Households. In the house of Calvi as in every other great 
mansion one is impressed with the multitude of attendants. 
The master, mistress, and their friends are dependent on 
every kind of menial service. Before Calvus rises from bed, 
he is massaged every morning by an expert masseur, and 
some of his more effeminate friends insist on having not 
walking sticks but handsome slave boys of convenient height 


always at hand, on which to lean as they move about. In 
a well-ordered mansion, indeed, it seems needless really for 
the master to do much more than feed himself and draw his 
own breath the servants can do all the rest for him! 
A f amilia of one hundred and fifty slaves, such as Calvus's, 
requires a semi-military organization. Everything should 
run smoothly. At the head of all are the upper slaves, 
proud, arrogant beings with their own body servants, the 
commissioned officers of the army. The procurator (some- 
times a freedman), who does the purchasing and outside 
business; the dispensator, who manages the storerooms; 
the atriensis, who acts as general chamberlain, and especially 

132 A Day in Old Rome 

the silenta/rius, who enforces " silence " and general dis- 
cipline form the heads of this category. They are often 
petty tyrants, and the newcomer Croesus will have far more 
to fear from their harshness than from Calvus, who will 
hardly know him by sight. 

The staff at large is carefully split up into decurice (squads 
of ten) each under its special chief. There are the house 
cleaners, the table retinue, the kitchen force, the chamber 
boys and maids, the keepers of the wardrobes, the master's 
valets, the mistress's maids, the special attendants of Calvus's 
children, the litter bearers, the corps of messengers each 
forming a separate contingent. The master, too, has several 
secretaries, expert copyists and readers, and a librarian. 
There are several slave physicians although their duties are 
laigely confined to the familia ; the masters - will call in fash- 
ionable free professionals for their own serious ills. The 
two sexes are about equally divided, and a great many slaves 
are respectably if informally married, 1 although a familia 
is anything but a school of social virtue. 

111. Discipline in a Well-Ordered Mansion. Long Hours 
of Idleness. In such a mansion the master and mzourtoS 
have little acquaintance with the lower run of the human 
beings over whom they possess absolute power. Calvus, 
however, knows his upper servants, his favorite valets, and 
his first secretary, and being a genuinely kindly man has 
come to esteem them and trust them familiarly ; and it is the 
same between Gratia and her confidential maids. 

The other slaves they treat fairly humanely, all things con- 
sidered, but absolutely impersonally their presence is 
to be taken for granted like articles of furniture, and their 
personal problems are ignored. In the peristylium there is 
always posted a bulletin board informing the slaves of the 

1 Slave unions had no legal status, but only a harsh and tactless master 
would ordinarily break them up. 

The Slaves 133 

nights when their master is going out to dinner, and although 
Calvus does not imitate certain very haughty individuals 
by trying to give all his orders through signs and never ad- 
dressing a menial, it is good breeding to speak to ordinary 
slaves as seldom and then as curtly as possible, just as one 
should not waste words addressing a yoke of oxen. 

Roman house-slaves have their sorrows but they need not 
ordinarily fear two mortal evils hunger, or overwork. 
They have, of course, their own dining quarters and are kept 
on sufficient, if simple rations of meal cakes, salt, oil, com- 
mon wine, and a little fruit. Butcher's meat they seldom 
touch, except as the kitchen staff get the leavings from the 
banquets, although the upper servants naturally fare more 

As for slaves' working hours, they are absurdly short. 
Every servant has some limited appointed task. When 
that is finished nothing else is expected of him, and to require 
other duties would not merely make the master unpopular 
with his servants, it would stamp him before his equals as 
an extremely mean and sordid man. Thus, on very many 
days, Calvus's six litter bearers have absolutely nothing to 
do. On the many nights that he and Gratia dine out the 
great. kitchen staff is concerned mainly with the dice-box. 
The boudoir maids are usually idle from the time their mis- 
tress is dressed until she must dress again for dinner. All 
this makes for gossiping, gaming, and for the worst kinds 
of busy idleness. 

112. Inevitable Degradation Caused by Slavery. Evil 
Effect upon Masters. Are these " speaking tools " very 
miserable? Calvus's familia is not exceptional in that a 
tolerably kindly relation often exists between owner and 
owned. The Stoic philosophy is making its impression, 
and there are plenty of theoretical argument that " a slave 
is also a man " and entitled to humane treatment. A mas- 

134 A Day in Old Rome 

ter or mistress who is habitually cruel is frowned on socially 
as might be a man accustomed to abuse his horses. 

Nevertheless, the status of a slave is always morally de- 
grading. He feels himself a mere chattel. Whatever he 
enjoys, he enjoys merely on suffrance. Any sort of iniquity 
is condoned in his mind " if the master orders it," and he is 
likely to be honest and faithful more through the fear of 
harsh punishment than because of any high ethical motives. 

On the other hand just because slavery has perforce its 
brutal, soul-destroying elements, it is almost equally evil for 
the master. It is seldom good for a man to have the lives 
often of hundreds of fellow beings in his power; or to be 
relieved of every possible kind of honest exertion by a swarm 
of officious menials. Furthermore, slavery being inevitably 
so brutal, masters often live in terror of a mutiny by the 
brutes themselves. " So many slaves, so many enemies' 9 
is a standard maxim ; not always true, but true enough to 
excuse many horrid practices. 

The slave revolt led by Spartacus in 73 B.C. is now half 
forgotten in history, but that rebel gladiator had later several 
almost as successful imitators. Every now and then some- 
thing happens which makes senatorial blood run cold. Only 
in Trajan's day there was one Lagius Macedo, an ex-prsetor, 
a cruel and overbearing master, indeed, who was beaten to 
death by his slaves while he was bathing at his Formise 
villa. The wretches were all crucified, of course, but (as 
wrote Pliny the Younger just after it happened) : " You 
see what we masters are exposed to ; and nobody can feel 
safe because he's an easy and mild master ; for it's sheer vil- 
lainy, not premeditation, that prompts our murder." 

Another danger, especially under evil emperors, comes from 
the incessant presence of slaves at the most private affairs of 
their lords, their willingness to tattle, to assist informers, 
and often to help ruin their masters outright in return for 

The Slaves 135 

freedom and reward. " The tongue is the worst part of a 
bad slave/' runs a familiar saying, and even an honest and 
high-minded man must shudder at the idea of having all his 
intimate doings passed on to delight his enemies. 

113. Punishment of Slaves. Under these circumstances, 
and with so many slaves who are undoubtedly by origin and 
nature unreliable if not incorrigible, every large house has 
its small private dungeon, and also a low-browed wolfish 
creature who serves as jailer and official " whipper." Even 
in Calvus's house he finds occupation, for in so large a familia 
some luckless boy or maid is often caught loitering or pilfer- 
ing, and gets a dose of the many-lashed scourge at the 
orders of the upper-slave managers. 1 Under-slaves, indeed, 
think nothing of a lashing beyond its mere pain ; there is no 
disgrace, it is all part of one's lot in life. 

There can be much worse things than this in many houses. 
Servilia, one of Gratia's acquaintances, often beats her tire- 
women cruelly with the flat of her bronze mirror for the most 
trivial offenses. Ambustus, the new sedile, lately ordered a 
boy to get one hundred stripes merely for being slow in bring- 
ing hot water. The rich widow Lepidia so enjoys having 
her slaves flogged, that she makes the whipper actually do 
his pitiless work in her dressing room, while she is reading 

1 Of course, in a large slave household frequently there were unruly 
elements who often had to be punished privately, when, if free men, their 
actions would have landed them in the police courts. The stripes might 
be inflicted as a mild correction with the cane, or leather strap, or more 
severely with the terrific flagellum (loaded whip), usually with three 
chains set with metal. A sound lashing with this could cause death 
(see below, p. 137). The prejudice against brutal whipping and the 
like was growing steadily, thanks to the advance of the Stoic philosophy, 
even before the triumph of Christianity. Juvenal denounces those who 
inflict outrageous floggings for slight faults. "Does a man set his son a 
good lesson by calling in the torturer and having a slave branded for 
stealing a couple of towels ? Does such a man hold that the bodies and 
souls of slaves are of the same elements as our own ? " 

136 A Day in Old Rome 

the " Daily Journal " (Ada Diurna, see p. 282) and hav- 
ing her face rouged. Many a slave has been whipped to 
death because of some small folly which sent his master or 
mistress into a rage, and noblemen have been known to 
keep huge flesh-eating carp in their fish ponds, and to toss 
in a recalcitrant slave occasionally to improve the flavor 
of the fish, although such actions disgust all decent people. 

114. Branding of Slaves. Ergastula Slave Prisons. 
If a slave's offense is too great to be rewarded by a mere 
whipping, and yet does not provoke the death penalty, there 
are plenty of intermediate punishments. Toiling around 
Calvus's atrium is an ill-favored lad with the scars of brand- 
ing barely healed on his forehead : " FVR " he is marked 
(" Thief ") l . He is taking the place of another youth who, 
to cure extreme laziness, has been sent for a month to the 
" mill gang " chained to the great lever which turns the 
grist mill and forced to toil all day like a hard-driven ass 
an excellent cure for idleness. 

This fate is not so bad, however, as what befell one of the 
eques Pollio's valets, a bright clever lad, who foolishly became 
too pert to his master. In a fit of anger Pollio ordered, 
" Give him six months in the ergastulum" The soft-handed 
boy was, therefore, not merely shipped off to severe farm 
labor, itself utterly repulsive, but was obliged to work in the 
fields in a chain-gang along with the very scum of slave-crimi- 
nals ; always in fetters, lashed by brutish keepers themselves 
slaves, and confined at night in underground prisons (ergas- 
tida) that were mere kennels. 

115. Death Penalties for Slaves. Pursuit of Runaways. 
If a slave really deserves death, there are, of course, two 
standard methods of capital punishment, both very degrading 

1 "Three Letter Man" or "Man of Letters" became a common taunt 
among slaves. 

The Slaves 137 

as well as fearful. Everybody knows about crucifixion with 
its hours and perhaps days of hideous agony; but more 
common and nearly as painful is death on the furca. 1 The 
victim's head is placed at the opening of two " V "-shaped 
beams and his arms tightly lashed upon them; then the 
professional floggers strike the wretch with their loaded 
whips, the leaden balls worked into the thongs making them 
a terrific weapon, until death comes as blessed relief. It 
has been a long day since there has been an execution at 
Calvus's house, but some years ago a Spanish boy who mur- 
dered an upper-servant perished thus under the lash. There 
is, however, a much simpler way of disposing of criminal 
slaves, one bringing a certain return to their masters, 
namely, to sell them to the givers of public shows to train 
as gladiators or merely to set in the arena to give sport to 
the bears or lions. 

Of course, under such conditions slaves will often try to 
run away. They seldom really succeed, however, unless they 
are persons of marked intelligence and can make off with con- 
siderable money. The Roman Empire is one vast police unit, 
unattached strangers are everywhere scrutinized carefully and 
when a slave disappears a reward is promptly offered. Only 
now a crier has gone down Mercury Street, with a crowd after 
him, as he proclaims : " Disappeared from the public baths, a 
boy aged about sixteen. Free and easy habits. Curly hair. Good- 
looking. Answers to name of Giton. A thousand sesterces to 
anybody hailing him back to Aulus Sulpicius near the Temple 
of Ops, or to anyone who will betray his whereabouts! " 2 

If Giton is retaken, he can thank the gods if he is merely 
flogged almost to death, and is not also given a year in the 

1 A slave might be lashed to a furca for some hours, as a minor penalty 
without desire to put him to death. 

2 An actual proclamation from Petronius. 

138 A Day in Old Rome 

Naturally slaves can only testify in court by their master's 
consent and under torture, although the reigning humane 
Emperor has just issued a decree limiting its use to the last 
resort, Hadrian, also, contrary to the usage in Nero's day, 
has ordained that if a man is murdered by his slaves, only 
the slaves near the actual scene of crime are to be tormented, 
and he has actually banished a certain matron, Umbricia, for 
" abusing her slave girls most atrociously for trivial reasons." 
All this perhaps dimly foreshadows a new day; but what 
human chattel can wait to see the abuses of slavery whittled 
down by the law across the centuries ? 

Have the slaves along Mercury Street any nearer hope? 
Possibly. The other day many of them saw in the front 
benches of honor at the Circus a man of dignity. His hands 
glittered with sardonyx rings; his lacerna was of Tyrian 
purple ; his shoes were scarlet, his hair reeking with costly 
essences ; a great train bowed and cringed to him. But 
his forehead was covered with " numerous white patches 
like stars " ; " sticking plaster/' everybody whispered, to 
cover up the FVR once branded on his countenance. He 
was an ex-slave, an exalted freedman, who, a couple of dec- 
ades before, had stood on the auction block, but now was a 
mighty power in Roman high finance. 



116. Manumission of Slaves Very Common. A Roman 
slave's legal position may be miserable, but usually he is not 
under that fearful stigma of race and color weighing upon 
the slaves of another era. His complexion and his brain 
power do not differ essentially from his master's. 1 If he is 
a Greek or Levantine, often his mental acuteness may be 
greater than that of his lord. An intelligent slave under 
not too harsh a master will devote himself to the latter in 
every possible way, expecting pretty certainly the great re- 
ward for faithfulness and zealous service freedom. Of 
course, many dull hardened wretches, especially upon the 
farms, will die as the toiling chattels they have lived ; but 
freedom comes often enough to make manumission some- 
thing for which to hope eagerly. 

Often the death of a master is the signal for a grand en- 
franchisement of all the older members of his familia. It 
costs nothing thus to reward faithful service at the expense 
of your heirs ; and it is a fine thing to have a long file of 
newly created freedmen, all wearing the tall red caps of 
" liberty," march in your funeral procession. Everybody 
will praise your " generosity/' and the freedmen can be ex- 
pected to cherish their lord's memory. Incidentally, also, 
there are few better ways of punishing a generally incom- 
petent slave than having him ostentatiously refused freedom 
when all his comrades go about rejoicing. 

1 There tyould be just enough of negroes in Rome for them to cease to 
be great curiosities. 


140 A Day in Old Rome 

117. The Ceremony of Manumission. Nevertheless, 
many slaves need not wait for their masters to die. They 
are perhaps suffered to work at a trade, and accumulate their 
" peculium," and then very likely to purchase their own and 
their wives' and children's liberty. With rich masters of the 
better sort, it is also a gracious act at certain intervals to 
select a few extra-deserving slaves and say to them the blessed 
words, " Come with me to the prsetor ! " 

When they are all before the magistrate a solemn legal 
formality is gone through. One of the official lictors steps 
forward, gives a light tap with his rod upon the head of 
each slave and says loudly, " I declare this man is free ! " 
The master laying hold of the slave and turning him around, 
replies, " And I desire that this man should be free ! " adding 
a slight blow on the cheek ; whereat the magistrate declares 
officially, " And I adjudge that this man is free." This 
completes the " manumission " ; then home the happy 
" freedman " (libertinw) goes to be greeted with the con- 
gratulations of his former fellow-slaves, showers of sweet 
cakes, dates, and figs and all kinds of humble rejoicings. 

118. The Status of Freedmen. Their Great Success in 
Business. Henceforth, the ex-slave is the freedman of his 
former master. He takes the first part of his master's name ; 
thus that Cleander, manumitted a few years ago by Publius 
Junius Calvus, now swells about proudly as Publius Junius 
Cleander. His children will henceforth be Junii, no less 
lawfully than Calvus's children; with a result that the 
gentile names of some of the proudest houses in Rome are 
now also borne by families perforce acknowledging swart 
Africans or tow-headed Batavians as very near ancestors. 

Once escaped from actual slavery a great career in life 
can open before an energetic freedman. If his ex-master is 
a Roman citizen, he also is now a Roman citizen without any 
naturalization process. True he is under a social stigma. 

The Social Orders 141 

Not merely he, but his children also, are excluded from the 
Senate and all the higher offices of the state; but an ex- 
slave is not likely to suffer from thinness of skin. Compelled 
in his youth to use his wits and put forth all his energies, 
he now often possesses abilities, often not very refined or 
delicate, which carry him far in trade, general business, and 

Usually before a master manumits a slave it is arranged 
that he shall remain in the mansion as some kind of an in- 
valuable " man of business " for handling a large estate. 
Many a senator is like Cicero, in all private affairs com- 
pletely at the mercy of a confidential alter ego, a freedman 
like Cicero's able and beloved Tiro. Practically every 
dignitary in Rome will refer his business matters to " my 
freedman/' a shrewd consequential fellow, probably of 
Grseco-Levantine origin, who has the right to use his patron's 
seal ring, and who knows all the family secrets. Supple, 
obsequious, and indispensable, he is certain of a great legacy 
when his patron dies ; and if the patron is childless, he often 
becomes his heir. There are, indeed, plenty of cases where 
a slave-boy who entered a house as a valet, first earned free- 
dom, then became a general confidant, and ended not merely 
with inheriting the house itself but with marrying the late 
owner's widow. 

119. Humble Types of Freedmen. Of course, the bulk 
of freedmen have no claim to such expectations. They are 
petty shop keepers or skilled craftsmen. They make up 
the great bureaus of upper clerks in the huge government 
offices on the Palatine. Everywhere they compete, as a 
rule very successfully, with the free born, and, of course, 
they add to the cosmopolitan multitudes in Rome. 

An ex-slave cannot avoid becoming substantially the client 
of his former master. He is supposed to show his patron 
and his patron's family constant respect and usually a cer- 

142 A Day in Old Rome 

tain amount of service without compensation. Thus a 
while ago Calvus manumitted a very faithful slave-physician. 
It was stipulated that he should continue to physic the f amilia 
without charge. For a freedman to show himself neglectful 
of these obligations, above all to do anything to injure his 
ex-master, is the depth of depravity. The legal penalties 
for such " ingratitude " are very severe, and in extreme cases 
the actual act of manumission itself can be cancelled. 

120. Wealth and Power of Successful Freedmen. Never- 
theless, top-lofty freedmen abound. Their ready wits bring 
them riches the power before which all the Empire bends. 
Once more Juvenal describes an obnoxious type : " Though 
I'm born on the Euphrates, a fact which the little windows 
[holes for earrings] in my ears would prove if I denied it 
yet am I the owner of five shops which bring me in 400,000 
sesterces [$16,000] per year. What better thing does a 
senator's robe bestow? Therefore, let everybody give way 
to one who but yesterday with the chalked feet of a slave 
entered our city." Freedmen, of course, get ahead 
marvellously because nothing is too sordid if only it promises 
gain. " He [a certain freedman] ," says Petronius, " started 
with an as [large copper coin], and was always ready to pick 
a quadrans [farthing] out of the filthy mire with his teeth. So 
his wealth grew and grew like a honey comb I " 

Very probably, the ideal set before this species of persons 
is that of becoming all-powerful imperial freedmen, such as 
that pair, Pallas and Narcissus, who literally ruled the 
Roman Empire through their patron, Claudius. Trajan 
and Hadrian have, indeed, greatly reduced the power 
of freedmen around the Palace, turning the great 
secretarial offices over to equites, but there are still ex-slaves 
in the service of " Caesar," who have only a little less in- 
fluence than that mighty Claudius Etruscus who died of old 
age under Domitian after having served six Emperors. He 

The Social Orders 143 

began life in Rome as a slave boy from Smyrna. Tiberius 
manumitted him. He rose to become practically the head 
of the Treasury. His wealth was great, but his integrity 
matched his vast power, and few senators had such command- 
ing influence in the government as he possessed. 

121. Importance of Freedmen in a Roman Family. 
In such a house as that of Calvus there are neither imperial 
ministers nor miserly speculators. The freedmen are hon- 
ored and trusted members not of the slave familia but of 
the actual "family." When they are sick Calvus and 
Gratia are greatly concerned, as was Pliny the Younger over 
the illness of his beloved reader, Zosimus. If there is any 
domestic crisis, their counsel is sought and they take a zealous 
interest in the education of their lord's children. 

On the other hand, on the nearby Flora Street spreads the 
huge garish palace of the ex-slave Athenonius, who won his 
freedom by catering to a foolish master's worst passions, 
and then gathered enormous wealth by speculating in Egyp- 
tian corn. " Freedmeris riches " have become a proverb. 
Not all freedmen are by any means wealthy, but enough of 
them have risen to the seats of the mighty to make every 
toiling slave dream dreams and see vision's of something 
better than a dishonored, servile grave. 

122. The Status of Provincials. The Case of Jesus. 
All freedmen are Roman citizens, albeit citizens under a 
formal handicap, but in a city like Rome there are always 
many free persons who are not citizens at all visiting pro- 
vincials. Every year the Emperors issue some edict grant- 
ing the franchise to a new group of non-citizens, but the 
numbers of the latter in all the provinces of the Empire is 
still great. 1 At Rome their position is ordinarily comfortable 

1 It is impossible to estimate the proportion of the population "enfran- 
chised" finally by the oft-discussed edict of Caracalla in 214 A.D. It 
must have been over one half of the entire total. 

144 A Day in Old Rome 

enough, although if arrested, they are liable to a more sum- 
mary trial than Roman citizens and in case of famine or 
public disturbance they are liable to sudden expulsion from 
the city (as Claudius expelled the Jews) without any redress. 
The real disadvantage which they endure is that they can- 
not be appointed to any kind of public office under the 
Roman government. They are also sometimes under a 
legal handicap in making and enforcing commercial con- 
tracts ; and last but not least in their own provinces they 
cannot " appeal to Csesar " (if in an " Imperial " province) 
or to the Senate (if in a " Senatorial " province) against the 
decision, however arbitrary, of the Roman governor. 

If you search the public records at the great Tabularium 
(Public Record Office) by the Forum, you can find for example 
the report of the trial of a certain Jew, one Christus, who was 
accused of sedition in Judaea, about a hundred years before 
our visit to Rome. The procurator Pilatus yielding to 
popular clamor had him executed ignominiously by cru- 
cifixion. This was, of course, within Pilatus's legal au- 
thority. Christus was only a provincial and he could take 
no appeal. 

The status of the provincials depends much on whether 
their communities enjoy any treaty with or charter from 
Rome. Athens and a few other favored places are nom- 
inally " equal allies " with full rights of self-government, and 
their citizens can claim a favored position among the mass 
of provincials. Other places possess charters giving great 
privileges but revocable in case of gross abuse. 

The bulk of the provincials are mere " stipendiaries," 
often permitted local self-government, but subject to Roman 
taxation, and to the complete jurisdiction of the Roman 
governor. Under the Empire these governors are only by 
exception corrupt and arbitrary, but their decisions must 
usually be final. 

The Social Orders 145 

123. Great Alien Colonies in Rome. Apart from the 
great alien slave population there are inevitably large groups 
of resident aliens in various parts of the capital. There 
is a Little Syria, Little Egypt, Little Spain, and a Little 
Greece as surely as in certain great cities of a later civiliza- 
tion, but the most famous and conspicuous is the great 
Jewish colony. 

This exists mainly in the Trans-Tiber district under the 
shadow of the Janiculum, although Jews are allowed to 
settle and to do business in any section of the city. The 
total number of free Jews in Rome has been set at 35,000 in 
Augustus's day, and it received a great reinforcement through 
the captives of Titus, many of whom regained their liberty. 
The Jews are obliged to pay to the Capitoline Jupiter that 
tribute which they formerly paid to their Temple in Jeru- 
salem, but otherwise they are not harassed by the govern- 
ment. For the most part, however, they are very poor; 
few of them are great bankers or merchants, but nearly all 
the rest are petty shopkeepers and peddlers also a great 
many are alleged to increase their living by fortune-telling 
and by like dubious arts. 

124. The Roman Plebeians, the "Mob" (Vulgus). 
Greatly surpassing the resident aliens in number are inevi- 
tably the ordinary Roman plebeians. It is a fine thing in 
the provinces to boast, " Civis Romania sum" but in the 
capital many a freedman, many an upper-slave of a magnate 
even, looks down with scorn on a large fraction of this " com- 
mon herd " (grex) that still claims to form " the Roman 
People/' However, if you are really a Roman citizen en- 
titled to wear a toga, and to share -in the grain doles and 
other public distributions, you can really live on very little. 
Somehow you must find means for the rental of a sleeping 
garret in an insula, but the daytime you can spend hanging 
around the fora, porticoes, or the entrances to the circuses 

146 A Day in Old Rome 

and gladiator schools, playing morra and checkergames 
(see p. 205) ; idling in the great public baths ; frequenting 
every possible public exhibition in the theater or amphithea- 
ter and often getting a bare income by toadying most abjectly 
to the rich. 

Everybody despises this Roman " mob," and yet cringes 
to it. Its yells across the circus send the blood from the 
cheeks of very tyrannous emperors. The mild Italian 
climate renders an existence amid dirt and sunshine, eked 
out by very little labor, decidedly tolerable. 1 Assuredly 
very many of these " citizens " are simply honest thrifty 
industrialists, trades people, or professional men, holding 
their own stubbornly against the competing slaves, freed- 
men, and aliens. Nevertheless, the proportion of undesir- 
ables is dangerously great. Many of the idle plebeians are 
the sons of freedmen, who have inherited their parents' 
non-Italian vices but who have not been under their necessity 
of hard work and faithfulness ; and when one examines the 
moral and social qualities of the alleged heirs of the virtuous 
old-time plebeians the idea of " restoring the Republic/' 
still sighed after by a few aristocratic philosophers, appears 
absolutely laughable. 2 

125. The Desirability of Roman Citizenship. The Case 
of St. Paul. It is as contrasted with the status of provin- 
cials that Roman citizenship still preserves its remarkable 
value. A citizen can, indeed, no longer go to the Republican 
assemblies to elect magistrates and vote on proposed statutes, 
but he has his personal and property rights protected by 
the best kind of " Quiritian " law. The government is 
never, indeed, iniquitous enough to enact that, as between 

1 Apparently it was quite possible for impecunious persons to sleep 
much of the year under the public arches and porticoes, and thus even 
dispense witji the need of paying rent ! 

2 These hopes had practically died out by Hadrian's day. 

The Social Orders 147 

Roman and provincial, the judge must always decide for 
the former, nevertheless the advantages of the citizen are 

A Roman can command all sorts of protection not open to 
provincials. The judge will almost inevitably be a little 
prejudiced in his favor. If arrested, a citizen can ordinarily 
demand the right to give bail. It is a gross outrage to " ex- 
amine him by scourging." He cannot be put to torture. 
If he is finally sentenced to die, he cannot be crucified, but 
ordinarily must be beheaded a very merciful end. Par- 
ticularly, unless the case is extremely clear, in matters touch- 
ing his life and status as a citizen he can appeal from the 
decision of a provincial governor to " Csesar " or to the 
Senate (if in a province governed by that body). 

If we visit the Record Office again, this matter is clearly 
illustrated. About twenty-five years after the crucifixion 
of Christus, one of his followers, a certain Paulus, was also 
arrested in Jerusalem on much the same charges of attempted 
sedition and inciting disturbance. But Paulus, when ar- 
rested, promptly pleaded his Roman citizenship. Vainly 
the local mob clamored for his life even as they had de- 
manded that of Christus. When the local procurator Festus 
hesitated to set him at liberty, the prisoner demanded to be 
sent to Rome and thither at great trouble and expense 
he had to be shipped ; to be tried ultimately before the Prse- 
torian Prsefect sitting as Nero's deputy; and the charges 
were dismissed and he was set at liberty. 1 If he had not 
been a Roman, assuredly the weak-kneed governor of Pales- 
tine would have sacrificed him " to please the Jews " just 
as Pilatus sacrificed Christus. 

126. Clientage : Its Oldest Form. Between the poorest 
classes of plebeians, sleeping within porticoes and despised 

1 That St. Paul was presently released after trial at Rome is the con- 
sensus among very many competent scholars. 

148 A Day in Old Rome 

by the superior slaves, and those dignified well-to-do gentle- 
men who have almost the means to pass as equites, there 
are, of course, an infinite number of social strata. The most 
important section of the better plebeians is undoubtedly 
to be numbered among the clients. 

Clientage is a very old Roman institution. The kings 
and nobles of Rome in the very twilight of history had their 
clients. Those were the days when poor plebeians had little 
or no legal protection unless they enlisted the patronage of a 
magnate. They entered his gens (inner-clan), followed him 
in war, voted (when they obtained the vote) in his interest, 
assisted him in certain money matters, in short, became 
members of his household although very much better off 
than the slaves. In return the patron was bound to defend 
their legal rights in the courts and to protect them from all 
forms of outrage. Men were proud to confess themselves as 
clients of a Fabius or an ^Emilius. But by the end of the 
Republic the institution had practically disappeared in its 
original form. There was little legal discrimination then 
against poor citizens, and about all the real clients who now 
remained were freedmen, who, as just seen, were bound to 
be loyal and helpful to their patroni. 

127. The New Parasitical Clientage : the Morning Saluta- 
tion. Now, however, a new and wholly parasitical clientage 
has come into being. Early every morning the clients can 
be seen hurrying down Mercury Street in their hastily donned 
togas. Sometimes a patron lives a , great distance across 
the city; sometimes a fawning myrmidon hopes to visit 
two patrons in the same morning and get a double reward. 
Calvus does not rejoice in a great horde of clients, but being 
a senator his dignity requires that he should maintain per- 
haps a score of them. 

These clients are an assorted lot. Some are merely cheap 
hangers-on, some are adventurers visiting Rome and ex- 

The Social Orders 


pecting to prosper by earning the favor of the great, there 
is also a mediocre poet who hopes for a tidy gift some day 
because of laudatory verses about his " Rex " and the lat- 
ter's family, there are several distant relatives of the Calvi, 
poor relations to whom the doles are a form of pension ; and 
finally there are two or three men of good family and tolerable 

After Von Falke. 

incomes who actually dance attendance on Calvus just 
to get a little extra pocket money. 

The clients gather in the vestibule at dawn, rubbing 
their eyes, rearranging their hastily donned togas, and each 
trying to induce the not very civil porter to permit him 
to enter first. At last the word is passed to the door 
that, " The patron is ready." The valves open ; the 
clients swarm inside together. Publius Calvus dressed for 
the morning is standing in the rear of his atrium, just be- 
hind the pool of the impluvium. At his elbow is his 

150 A Day in Old Rome 

nomenclator, the slave who " knows everybody," to whisper 
a name in case he should not connect it promptly with 
a face. 

" Ave, pair one, aw ! " cries each client coming up in turn. 
" Ave, Marce ! " or " Sexte ! " or " Lucie ! " answers Calvus 
with a more or less formal smile. 

If his mood is very gracious, each client is allowed to seize 
his hand, and two or three in extra favor are suffered to kiss 
his cheek. The nomenclator meantime prompts him in un- 
dertone, " Ask about his wife," " Congratulate him on his 
niece's marriage," etc. And if that evening there are not 
more important guests in view, the senator will delight the 
souls of several by saying affably, " Come to-night to dinner." 
The clients in any case congratulate themselves that their 
patron is not like some of those very haughty parvenus, 
who simply hold out their hands to be kissed and never speak 
a word, and who like to be called "dominus," as if then* 
clients were merely slaves. 

128. The Dole to Clients (the Sportula). After the 
clients will appear more pretentious visitors equites and 
fellow senators who call to see Calvus on business. Their 
own clients are probably waiting listlessly in the street, while 
Calvus 5 s dependents have to stand respectfully near their 
lord until an upper slave beckons them toward the office 
the tablinum. He has a list in his hand and checks off all 
present as might a master the pupils in his school, and then 
comes the reward which brought all these toga-wearing 
gentry thither, a distribution of money. 

In former years every client had received an actual portion 
of victuals, known as sportula from the "little basket" 
which everybody brought to bear the viands hence. But 
this custom of distributing actual food was inconvenient, 
and far more pleasing is an actual gift of money. Only 
regularly listed clients can receive this ; and no client, sick 

The Social Orders 151 

or lazy, can send a deputy. 1 He must appear in person or 
stand his loss. At length, to every lawful retainer present 
is carefully counted out a hundred quadrantes, small coppers 
(rather under 25 cents), and besides the clients entertain 
a few hopes of a fairly liberal present at New Year's Day, 
and at some other festivals, and as seen, in a kind of rotation 
they are invited at broad intervals to dinner. 

129. Attendance by Clients in Public. Insults They Must 
Undergo. After the sportula has been paid, the clients 
look anxiously toward Calvus. Will he tell them, as he does 
about half of the time, " Nothing more to-day/' and let them 
scatter down the streets ? Not so ; " My litter " he orders. 
The clients are obliged to march before and behind, along 
with the slaves, helping to elbow aside the crowd, while the 
senator visits other senatorial houses, next his banker at 
the Forum, and then the law courts for a consultation, and 
so goes his round. If he detains the clients through the 
noon hour, he is obligated to give them some kind of luncheon ; 
but he can command the attendance of them all even up to 
the tenth hour, when he may turn them loose to refresh 
themselves in the public Baths of Titus, after they have left 
him perhaps at the more select Baths of Agrippa. 

As for the clients invited to Calvus 's dinner, if the fare is 
plainer than on the night of a high banquet, there is at least 
no insulting discrimination. A decent patron and patrona 
are bound to show themselves " friends " of their clients 
and to keep up a pretence of democratic manners. But 
as stated earlier (see p. 120), many a vulgar plutocrat, 
feeling that 'he has paid good money to get a proper retinue 

1 Women as well as men could sometimes be enrolled as clients. Com- 
ical stories abounded ; how a husband appeared with a litter claiming 
that his " sick wife" was inside " and would the steward please hurry 
with the fee" when, on brushing aside the curtains, the litter was 
found to be empty. 

152 A Day in Old Rome 

to follow him to the Forum, delights to insult his clients' 
feelings when he invites them. The host enjoys his fine white 
loaf, while the client's is almost too hard to break ; the host 
a splendid lobster garnished with asparagus, the client " a 
crab on a tiny plate hemmed in by half an egg " ; the lord 
" noble mushrooms," the client " toadstools of doubtful 
quality/' and all other treatment is to match. Yet such 
is the servility and pettiness of many that they will endure 
all this and worse merely in order to boast the next day of 

" last night when I dined with my friend the senator ! " 

" You think yourself a citizen and the guest of a grandee," 
cries the indignant poet. " He thinks, and he's nearly right, 
that you've been captured by the fine smell from his kitchen." 

Clientage then is a typical institution of imperial Rome 
a means for letting rich men flatter their desire for a huge 
company of obsequious attendants by trading on the wretched 
ambition of so many to appear to be on familiar terms with 
the great. It multiplies the horde of shabby-genteel persons 
around the city, and the vast number of those who flee from 
their greatest aversion honest work. 

130. The Decurions: the Notables of the Chartered 
Cities. Above the run of clients or even of the better 
plebeians is the actual nobility. Strictly speaking only the 
senators and equites are reckoned in this group, but always 
in Rome are sojourning a certain number of other men who 
hold themselves decidedly better than any plebeians the 
decurions from the enfranchised towns covering all Italy 
and dotted over the entire Empire. 1 

The decurions are the notables of the smaller chartered 
cities. In their own communities they are local senators 
and enjoy in a small way the position of an actual Senator 

1 Especially in Gaul, Spain, and North Africa ; in the Eastern prov- 
inces the city governments were not run so strictly in the Roman mold 
and often kept their native characteristics. 

The Social Orders 153 

in Rome. 1 Nobody can be elected decurion without a 
reasonable property qualification, in many cities 100,000 
sesterces ($4000), and from their body of wealthy digni- 
taries the local public assemblies still elect (even under the 
Empire) city magistrates, duumvirs, sediles, etc., who take 
the place in each community of the old consuls and censors 
of Republican Rome. 

Since the loyalty of the population and the popularity of 
the imperial regime often depends on this very influential 
class of decurions, the government makes much of them ; 
allows them high-sounding titles and tinsel honors, and any 
who visit Rome are given social precedence directly behind 
the actual equites. Furthermore, many high Roman nobles 
themselves are proud to be enrolled as patrons and honorary 
decurions of the Italian towns, looking after the interest of 
their client communities in the capital, and, if they visit the 
smaller cities, being received as particular guests of honor. 
The number of decurions, however, in Rome itself is always 
small, although their importance everywhere else in the 
Empire is vast, and they virtually form a third order of 

131. The Equites: the Nobles of the Second Class. 
Everywhere around the metropolis you meet the second- 
class nobles the Equites. 2 This " Splendid Order " dates, 
of course, from the oldest days when to keep a cavalry horse 
implied having considerable property. The equites sank to 
unimportance in the prosperous era of the Republic, but 
were revived to great power by Gaius Gracchus ; they were 
later reorganized and made an effective part of the new 
imperial regime by Augustus. 

1 Hence they were often called Curiales from their seat in the local 
Senate House (Curia) . 

2 This name is not wisely translated as "Knights," unless there is 
complete disassociation from the idea of the mediaeval baron in armor. 

154 A Day in Old Rome 

The dividing line between Senators and Equites is not 
always sharp. Young men of senatorial family who renounce 
a political career have to " make narrow their purple stripe," 
as did Ovid, and without disgrace appear henceforth as 
second-class nobles. Supposedly no persons but the sons 
of free-born men are eligible for enrollment as equites, but 
the members of the old-line families fume vainly at the way 
the Emperors (who have complete dispensing power) will 
grant " the right of the gold ring," not merely to the sons of 
freedmen, but sometimes even to downright ex-slaves. 
There are in truth very few equites in Rome who do not 
reckon a slave among their not remote grandparents. 

The equites are all carefully enrolled in a public bureau 
under imperial control, and one of the surest holds which the 
Emperor possesses upon the government lies in the fact that 
he can refuse enrollment arbitrarily to any young man and 
thereby practically exclude him from any kind of high public 
office except in the municipal towns, or from any military 
rank above that of centurion. The senators, all the more 
important officials, and all the commissioned officers of the 
army are equites, although then* greater honors cause them 
to ignore the lesser, while if the Emperor has an eligible son 
or heir, he is often proclaimed the princeps juventutis (" Chief 
of the Roman Youth ") and is nominally the first member 
of the Equestrian Order. 

132. Qualifications and Honors of the Equites. To be 
enrolled as an eques one must possess besides unstained 
birth (with exceptions above noted), a good public reputa- 
tion, and taxable property worth at least 400,000 sesterces 
($16,000) ; sufficient therefore to pass for a tolerably rich 
man. The honor comes for life, subject to demotion, how- 
ever, for disgraceful conduct, or lapse into poverty. A son 
normally inherits his father's status, if his own share of the 
patrimony comes to over 400,000 sesterces; and of course, 

The Social Orders 155 

to make up that magic figure many plebeians pinch and 

The honors of an eques are great in any age laying such 
stress on outward praise and glory. Besides the right to the 
plain gold ring, the narrow purple stripe running down the 
front of the tunic proudly proclaims the fact, " I am of the 
nobility." The equites also enjoy fourteen rows of seats in 
the public games and theater directly behind the four front 
ones reserved for the senators. They provide a large frac- 
tion of all the jurors in the great civil tribunals which handle 
most of the litigation. 1 Very many of the great imperial 
ministries and superintendences are reserved for them, for 
the Emperor does not like to trust the senators too implicitly, 
and some of the smaller provinces have equestrian " Pro- 
curators " as their governors, as also does the enormously 
wealthly province of Egypt. 

The majority of the equites, however, are in private life. 
Senators ought not (except through convenient middle- 
men) to engage in commerce and trade. Not so the equites 
the powerful bankers with whom the imperial treasurer 
may confer ; the owners of the peaceful armadas that enter 
Puteoli or Ostia ; the proprietors of the finer retail establish- 
ments along the Ssepta Julia as well as of the huge wholesale 
houses ; the directors of the vast brickyards, and other highly 
developed industries ; the owners of so many of the squalid 
but profitable insulae nearly all will show their " Angusti- 
clave " their narrow purple stripe. Equites appear at 
banquets with senators without the least awkwardness ; find 
they like to be addressed by fine booming titles : insignes, 
priwores, illustres, or, if holding high office, eminentissimi, 
but in most cases as splendidi; and " splendid " they appear 
to the envious slaves and plebeians. 

1 Apparently at this time two thirds of the jurors were equites and 
one third senators, but the point is not quite certain. 

156 A Day in Old Rome 

133. Review of the Equites. Pretenders to the Rank. 
The equites are still in theory a military body. Every 15th 
of July, unless the review is deliberately omitted, all members 
who are physically able are supposed to procure horses and 
take part in a grand parade before the Emperor. Sometimes 
there are at least 5000 equites in the procession. The 
Emperor still has the right of the ancient censors to brand a 
man as a bad citizen by the public command, " Sell your 
horse ! " as he rides by the reviewing stand ; l but the parade 
has now become merely an unpleasant formality for portly 
men unaccustomed to horseback, and old gentlemen are 
usually excused. 

In so large a body of " gentry/' however, imposture be- 
comes fairly common. Nearly every Emperor issues an 
edict for the purging of the order, and every now and then 
some adventurous nobody is divested of his " narrow stripe." 
Calvus came home lately from the Flaminian Circus laughing 
heartily. Just behind his senatorial tier a perfumed and 
beringed fellow set off with a splendid lacerna sat down say- 
ing loudly, " Now at last, thanks to our Caesar, due honors 
have come to the Roman equites, and the vulgar are kept 
away " ; but hardly had he spoken ere a lynx-eyed usher 
identified him and amid the jeering of hundreds " forced 
that very fine lacerna to get up ! " 

134. The Senatorial Order. The First-Class Nobility. 
The first class in the nobility is the Senatorial. The actual 
functioning of the Senate which is still a most venerable and 
powerful council will be told later (see p. 334) ; here we 
have to see its members merely in social and unofficial life. 
They number six hundred and entrance into their gilded circle 
comes usually by a kind of hereditary right. The sons of a 

1 The Republican censors could also give the order, " Sell your horse*' 
without stigma to equites who appeared in the review when too old or too 

The Social Orders 157 

senator can almost always count on becoming senators them- 
selves if the family fortune is not too impaired and they have 
not fallen under imperial disfavor. To win the honor you 
must either be elected (by the Senate itself) to some one of 
the old Republican offices quaestors, sediles, praetors, 
consuls, etc., which carried a life seat in the Senate with 
them, or be appointed outright by fiat of the Emperor. The 
latter, furthermore, is always pushing forward his favorites 
by " inviting " the senators to elect them to office, and the 
" Conscript Fathers " never disregarded such a broad hint 
from " Caesar." 

136. Social Glories of Senators. Senators alone are 
eligible for the highest commands in the army, for the gov- 
ernorships for the more important provinces, except Egypt, 
and for most of the other exalted offices which do not involve 
a vulgar handling of money. The Emperor himself ranks 
as the head of their noble body. Even when he is at bitter 
odds with them, he must not forget that they share part of 
his glory. Still is told the story of how one of Nero's parasites 
raised a laugh from the tyrant one day. "I hate you, 
Caesar!" he announced. "And why is that?" "Oh, 
just because you are a senator." 

All the senators are officially the " friends," amid, of the 

These great nobles are entitled to visit the Emperor in the 
palace somewhat as clients visit their patron. He is expected 
to extend his hand to them ; to treat them as a kind of social 
equals ; and to allow the more important of them to kiss him. 
They and their wives must be invited to all the greater palace 
banquets. Finally all the better monarchs are expected to 
take oath at the beginning of their reigns that they " will 
never put any senator to death " that is, that the Senate 
shall be the supreme judge over its own members. 

Although parvenus are promoted by even the best of 

158 A Day in Old Rome 

emperors, the senatorial families average much older than do 
the equestrian ; and it is still a very desirable thing to boast 
of " ancient blood and the painted visages of one's forebears." 

136. The Senatorial Aristocracy Greater than the Senate. 

The " Senatorial Aristocracy/' nevertheless, is something 
greater than the actual membership of the great council it- 
self. Not merely the sons but all the male descendants of a 
senator to the third degree are reckoned as equal socially to 
the actual (f Conscript Fathers," though many such connec- 
tions dress merely as equites with the narrow stripe. This 
may be from " lack of ambition " or it may be from desire 
to engage in trade. Gratia has two brothers. One is a 
senator, his wealth invested in lands, and at present he is 
imperial legate over part of Britain. The second is tech- 
nically only an eques, busy with enormous financial trans- 
actions with Alexandria; but the second is the richer and 
probably the more influential man of the two. Of course, 
all the wives of senators rank with their husbands, and every 
cousin, niece, or nephew of the latter feels a reflected luster. 
The six hundred senators are, therefore, the center of an upper 
aristocracy with at least six thousand actual members. 

137. Insignia, Qualifications, and Titles of Senators. 

The actual senators make no concealment of their honors. 
They have their special shoes (see p. 95), and most impor- 
tant of all they have the broad purple stripe running down 
the front of their tunics, the precious laticlave, distinguishing 
them instantly from the equites. Nobody, furthermore, can 
be enrolled as senator unless he possesses the taxable fortune 
of at least 1,000,000 sesterces ($40,000) ; and this insures 
that he is a passing rich man, above petty bribes and able 
to live with the dignity becoming a Lord of the Empire. 

The public glories of these dignitaries match their for- 
tunes. At all the public games and spectacles the senatorial 

The Social Orders 159 

tiers are directly behind the Emperor's lodge. In the public 
feasts the senators are not merely entitled to the seats of 
honor, but frequently to extra-generous portions of the food. 
If a senator tours the provinces, he can command every kind 
of servile attention, even if the Emperor refuses him the 
" right of free legation " the privileges of traveling with 
the honors of an ambassador. Finally if he is arrested, not 
merely is he ordinarily tried before his peers in the Senate ; 
he is subject to much lighter penalties than the run of citizens 
in case of conviction. 1 

Finally the senators have a title of nobility which they are 
able to command practically as a formal right 2 mr darissi- 
miLS "Very distinguished Lord" or "Your Magnifi- 
cence." Gratia, like every senator's wife, is a femina claris- 
sima; even her small sons can be addressed pompously as 
pueri clarissimi. To the multitude who make way for their 
litters, the rank of darissimus appears the acme of attainable 

The political power of the Senate has waned, but emperors 
are only mortal individuals. They come and go ; the existence 
of the great, proud, wealthy, landed aristocracy seems to go 
on forever. Emperors usually succeed so far as they win its 
loyalty and favor ; they somehow fail, and are branded across 
history as tyrants (often cut short by dagger thrusts) when 
they earn its hate. In an Empire of nigh one hundred mil- 
lions the six thousand of the Senatorial Order form the normal 
apex of the human pyramid. It is a fine thing to be a senator. 

1 By the age of Hadrian we see signs of that rigid separation between 
upper-class citizens (majores) and lower-class (minores) which marked 
the Later Empire. The equitea tended to be mingled with the senators in 
the majores. 

2 Marcus Aurelius confirmed this legally about 170 A.D. 


138. Scanty Qualifications and Training of Doctors. 
People fall sick in Rome quite as much as in every other great 
center of humanity, but the healing art has not really pro- 
gressed a great deal beyond that in Athens in the days of 
Hippocrates nearly five hundred years earlier. 1 A great pro- 
portion of even the most fashionable doctors are freedmen, 
and nearly all of these have Greek (or sometimes Egyptian) 
names. There is no medical examination. Anybody who 
has made a failure in other callings is welcome to pose as a 
physician and try to extract money from the unfortunate. 
There are many " surgeons " and " therapists " around the 
city who, a little while ago, were shoemakers, carpenters, or 
smiths, and who, perhaps, keep up their old handicraft on 
the side. Six months is time enough to learn a little medical 
jargon while serving as " disciple " to some experienced 
doctor ; after that, let the invalids beware. 

Under such circumstances the glory of the medical pro- 
fession suffers. Rightly did Pliny the Elder complain of 
doctors : " Any voluble person has powers of life and death 
over us, just as though thousands of persons did not live on 
without doctoring, as Rome existed for six hundred years 
[before the first physicians came]." Such gentry inevitably, 
if they fail at quackery, can then drift off to something else, 
and very familiar is Martial's epigram : " Diaulus has been 
a surgeon and is now an undertaker. At last he's begun to 
be useful to the sick in the only way that he's able." 

i See "A Day in Old Athens," p. 77. 


Physicians and Funerals 161 

139. Superior Class of Physicians, Nevertheless, the 
physicians of Rome are by no means all of them charlatans. 
If their theories are grossly imperfect^ many of them are men 
of wide experience and keen insight. A sick man able to 
command the best, need not give up in despair unless his case 
is really complicated and difficult. Great cures are recorded, 
as that of Augustus, whose life was saved in a most critical 
illness by the " cold-water treatment " ordered by his doc- 
tor, the wise freedman Antonius Musa a cure which by 
saving an all-important life affected the world's history. 

Whatever their qualifications, physicians, if not highly 
educated, assuredly abound in large numbers. Every char- 
tered city maintains a corps of them for the free treatment 
of the citizens, and keeps up public hiatreia well- 
lighted, spacious halls for offices and dispensaries. 1 Every 
cohort of the army has four physicians attached, with su- 
perior medical officers over the larger divisions, and camp 
sanitation has been worked out excellently by the Roman 
military experts. 

In the Imperial Court, the archiater (" head physician ") 
is a well-paid and very important dignitary. Between him 
and the miserable slave doctors who bleed and physic their 
fellows in the private f amilia there are any number of grada- 
tions. Most of the doctors, of course, practice for fees, al- 
though in Rome, too, a system of free clinics and dispensaries 
is coming in, with a special public physician for each of the 
fourteen regions of the city. 

140. A Fashionable Doctor. A doctor of the superior 
kind is Symmachus whom Calvus summons whenever any 
of his own family are seriously ill. he has one of the most 
fashionable practices in Rome, and his annual income is not 

1 Antoninus Pius, the ruler succeeding Hadrian, formally enjoined the 
remission of civic burdens for "community physicians" in the Province 
of Asia ; five in small cities, seven in larger ones, and ten in the largest. 


A Day in Old Rome 

much under that of Quintus Stertinus whose fees in Claudius's 
day brought him 600,000 sesterces ($24,000) per year. A 
high-grade physician does not render a monthly bill. He 
expects to be paid once annually on the first of January. 
Besides he counts on receiving a substantial legacy whenever 
a regular patient at length escapes him and dies. Lower 


grade doctors, however, are less delicate. They are charged 
with being greedy for unreasonable fees and with prolonging 
illnesses easily curable, demanding outrageous sums for 
common medicines, and taking every sordid advantage of the 
needs of the sick. 

Symmachus is apparently above all such gaucheries. He 
has been trained to bear himself as a polished gentleman. 
His visits are long or short according to the desires of his 
patients. He never blurts out unpleasant truths and he 

Physicians and Funerals 163 

always repeats the Hippocratic maxim, " A cure depends on 
three things, the sick man, his sickness, and the physician " ; 
and that the physician's business is to help the sick man to 
cure himself. The result is that while his anatomical theories 
would distress a later age, and some of his medicines are very 
crude, he often effects excellent results especially in those 
cases where mental therapeutics can avail a little. 

Such a doctor possesses a set of surgical instruments quite 
as good as any available in a later age until at least the time 
of the French Revolution, and assuredly he knows how to 
use them very skillfully. He can dull pain for operations or 
induce sleep by juice of mandragora or atropin, and he can 
operate for cataract by distending the eye-pupil by anagallis. 
Delicate surgical operations, however, he will probably turn 
over to specialists. There are such surgeons who operate, 
no doubt with reasonable success, for hernia and fistula, who 
take out gall-stones, and deal with very dangerous fractures. 
There are also lesser specialists who can remove or fill aching 
teeth and can banish superfluous hair, and there is one^shrewd 
old fellow who commands a princely income he can really 
erase the degrading marks of branding upon slaves, after 
they become lordly freedmen. 

141. Medical Books and Famous Remedies. Symma- 
chus affects to be a man of professional learning. He pos- 
sesses and claims to have studied carefully the great medical 
treatises of Hermogenes of Smyrna in 72 books, and that of 
Tiberius Claudius Menecrates in 156 books. To impress 
his patients he will talk learnedly of the jangling theories of 
the " Dogmatics/' and " Methodics," " Pneumaticists," 
etc., although professing himself to be an " Eclectic." How- 
ever, his own shrewd common sense is usually of greater avail 
than all his books. 

A large part of a popular physician's gains come not from 
regular fees, but from supplying his patients with medicine. 

164 A Day in Old Rome 

There are many shops selling crude drugs in Rome but no 
regular prescription pharmacists. 1 Public opinion avers 
that the more costly remedies are always the best, and Sym- 
machus does not discourage that idea too much, although 
telling his select patients that cheap medicaments often are 
as effective. It is often hard, however, to get pure drugs, 
and genuine ingredients. 2 Even the best doctors will be 
deceived by oriental drug dealers palming off false balsams, 
and similar commodities. 

Many physicians consider it professional to keep their 
remedies secret, and boast of private formulas, which they 
will not share with their rivals. In Tiberius's day there 
was a Paccius Antiochus who prepared a marvellous powder, 
a kind of panacea for many ills. He compounded it behind 
locked doors and mystified even his assistants as to its nature ; 
but on his death he had the decency to bequeath his formula 
to the Emperor who had it deposited for inspection in all 
the public libraries ; and Hadrian has just done the same with 
some formulas left by the great Marcellus of Side. 

142. Absurd Medicines. Theriac. Some of these reme- 
dies are of an extraordinary nature and so intelligent a man 
as Symmachus can have no confidence in them. Still plenty 
of good doctors will tell you that a piece of hyena-skin is an 
excellent remedy for mad-dog bites, and that certain very 
filthy substances make good poultices for swellings. The 
imperial government actually employs several slaves to 
catch adders, whence are derived several important medica- 
ments ; and it is claimed that medicines to cure gall-stones 
must be pounded with a pestle that contains no iron. There 
is no need to dwell on the absurd articles foisted on the gulli- 

1 Establishments selling ready prepared salves, plasters, and other 
standard remedies were not unknown, and must have supplied many 

2 Chemical analysis was, of course, unknown. 

Physicians and Funerals 165 

ble by the quacks ; pills made from dried bugs and centipedes 
are among the very least obnoxious. 

There is supposed to be a specific medicine for every dis- 
ease, and Symmachus's office is crammed with little chests 
bearing such labels as " Drug from Berytus for watery eyes. 
Instantaneous "; " Ointment for gout. Made for Proculus, 
imperial freedman. Safe Cure "; "Remedy for scab. Tested 
successfully by Pamphilius during the great scab epidemic," 
or " Eye-sake tried by Florus on Antonia, wife of Prince 
Drusus f after other doctors had nearly blinded her" 1 There 
is also a large box of famous compound to be used whenever 
diagnosis is uncertain. Theriac is a mixture of sixty-one dif- 
ferent elements including dried adders. Whoever takes it is 
sure to find at least one substance that will assist his disease ; 
and it is prescribed by almost every physician at the opening 
stages of a malady, before he can attempt diagnosis. 

143. Fear of Poisoning. Popularity of Antidotes. A 
large part of the doctor's drug collection is, however, made 
up of antidotes for poisons. Everybody dreads being poi- 
soned. Many peculiar deaths which ought to be diagnosed as 
caused by natural illness are charged up to venomous drugs 2 
and indeed a deadly dose rather than a deadly dagger seems 
a favorite means for murder. People still whisper stories of 
that awful poison-vender, the woman Locusta, who probably 
supplied Nero's mother Agrippina with the fatal powder she 
sprinkled on her husband Claudius's dish of mushrooms, and 
then another dose to Nero himself to kill his stepbrother, 
Britannicus, with a highly spiced goblet. 

1 These titles and much more of the data here given are from the 
writings of the great Galen the master physician of the imperial age ; 
who wrote his books under Commodus about 185 A.D. 

* As in the case of the death of Caesar Gennanicus (19 A.D,) whose 
death at Antioch was probably natural, but which all his friends attri- 
buted to poison given by his personal enemy, the Pro-consul Piso. 

166 A Day in Old Rome 

If a man has many deadly foes, he is likely to take a potion 
of the precious theriac daily because antidotes for so 
many poisons are carried in the compound ; and all histories 
tell how Mithridates of Pontus, that famous adversary of 
Sulla and Pompeius, used to take antidotes so constantly that 
he became entirely immune to the venoms prepared by all 
his enemies. Symmachus, as part of his stock in trade, 
therefore, keeps the proper antidotes for all such familiar 
poisons as hemlock, opium, henbane, gypsum, white lead, 
etc., as well as for many obscurer foods of evil. Rumor says 
that not long since he had to use several of them on the old 
ex-consul, Annseus, whose spendthrift sons seemed very 
anxious to get their inheritance. 

144. Medical Students, " Disciples," Beauty Specialists. 
Symmachus like all responsible physicians keeps an office 
on a good street, but although patients can visit him there, 
the place is mainly for the compounding of medicines by vari- 
ous slaves under the direction of several " disciples." There 
are no medical schools in Rome, 1 and these young disciples 
follow their master about, study a little, and learn by watch- 
ing him. They are kept away from his most select patients ; 
but are allowed to troop into the sick room of the poorer, 
feel of the pulse, examine the wounds, etc., in a manner 
most distressing. People, in fact, dread to call in a doctor 
it often means being felt over not by one but by a half 
dozen clammy hands, usually when one is very ill. 2 

In addition to the men of medicine are the " beauty spe- 
cialists " persons who claim to have reduced the supple- 
menting of nature to a science. A court physician Crito 
once wrote four books of standard authority on the com- 

1 Probably there were such in the eastern provinces. 

2 Without clinical thermometers or second-watches, the taking of 
temperature, timing of pulse, etc., must have been a very tedious and 
disagreeable as well as uncertain process. 

Physicians and Funerals 167 

pounding of cosmetics. Every physician is called upon to 
prescribe skin washes, depilatories for rendering the bodies 
of young dandies perfectly hairless, and formulae for fra- 
grances for clothes or chambers; but it takes a specialist 
to know the intricacies of rouge and enamel, and otherwise 
to assist the ladies. The dividing line also between the 
physician and the hairdresser is not always easy to mark. 
Petronius tells about the dames who not merely have abun- 
dant false hair, but " take their eyebrows out of a little box " 
and " put their teeth away at night just as they do their 

146. Cheap Doctors: No Hospitals. The inferior grades 
of doctors do a great deal of office work. In mere booths 
or small shops opening upon the street they receive patients, 
sometimes even standing by the door and bidding the hesitant 
" Step in 1 " Their surgeries are decked out with a display 
of ivory boxes, silver cupping glasses, and golden-handled 
lancets, the more incompetent the leech the greater often 
being the display. 

To advertise their skill practitioners of this class will often 
set bones and perform minor operations before a gaping 
crowd just outside in the streets actions denounced by 
men of Symmachus's caliber ; and all their patients are ex- 
amined with great publicity. Lower still are the itinerant 
quacks who will diagnose diseases on a street corner and 
vend alleged theriac and other " medicines " from a pedlar's 
pack. There are other unlovely members of the profession 
who grow rich by performing criminal operations, and to 
whom unfaithful wives or legacy-seekers ca& appeal, begging 
them to " put the patient out of his misery I " with results 
deliberately murderous. More legitimate of course are the 
numerous women who attend to the maladies of their own 
sex. Some of these women are said to be physicians of high 
capacity and able to command generous compensation. 

168 A Day in Old Rome 

A serious handicap to medicine exists because there are no 
public hospitals in Rome, although sick strangers are probably 
allowed to lie around the Temples of Asculapius or of other 
healing deities. 1 The control of epidemics is very imperfect. 
Rome has been visited severely by the plague, and in the 
reign of Marcus Aurelius it will be ravaged yet again. The 
age is a brutal one. Much is done to keep the populace 
amused and to delight the eye ; relatively little to preserve 
precious human lives. In the great slave familia, however, 
self-interest if no better motive impels the owners to try to 
keep their chattels healthy. As already explained nearly 
every slave household has its special slave physicians, men 
of tolerable competence ; and there is also the valetudinarium, 
the infirmary a detached building or a large room in which 
sick slaves can be properly tended, and also isolated to pre- 
vent infection. 

146. Suicide as Escape from Hopeless Disease. Sym- 
machus, despite his reputation for " wonderful cures," has 
just lost a wealthy patient. The circumstances were some- 
what unusual but by no means unprecedented. Quintus 
Gordianus, an elderly senator, ha'd been suffering from a 
very painful internal disease. Symmachus assured him the 
case was incurable, but that he might, nevertheless, live for 
years. Thereupon Gordianus announced that he would 
commit suicide. 

The right of a sane man voluntarily to surrender his life 
is undoubted. Philosophers have written fine essays on the 
desirability of suicide; only it must be entered upon dis- 
creetly and not as a cowardly means of escaping the duties 
of life. Many of Nero's and Domitian's noble victims ob- 

1 Apparently the organization of public hospitals in the fourth cen- 
tury of our era, was among the earliest and worthiest of the distinctly 
Christian charities, after the toleration of Christianity by the Roman 

Physicians and Funerals 169 

viously obeyed the mandate " Open your veins " more be- 
cause they were tired of existence than because a desperate 
attempt to overthrow the tyrant would have been hopeless. 
Many a Roman aristocrat has sucked all the sensual pleasure 
so completely out of life that the latter has become one great 
boredom, and no religion commands " Live on ! " when it is 
evident that the remainder of existence must merely be 
months or years of helplessness and pain. 

As soon, therefore, as Gordianus was satisfied that his case 
was hopeless he declared to his relatives that, " He would 
starve himself to death." They pleaded with him faithfully 
and caused most tempting food to be always within his reach, 
but later they took pride in telling of his iron will which re- 
jected all their efforts. At last the end came, and all his 
circle remarked that Gordianus died as became a Roman 
senator and a true philosopher. Suicides for more trivial 
reasons than the above are, of course, reported every day. 1 

147. Execution of Wills. Numerous Legacies Custom- 
ary. Before Gordianus became too weak, he called in a 
group of friends to witness the revision of his will. The right 
to execute a will is a precious privilege for Homan citizens, 2 
and the law allows wide options in disposing of one's prop- 
erty. A Roman gentleman makes his will mny times and 
is constantly revising or adding codicils to the same. Slaves 
are not supposed to make testaments their small pecidia 
must legally revert to their masters; but the more decent 
owners allow even slaves to bequeath their belongings to 

1 Two similar cases are recorded in Pliny the Younger ; in one of them 
the person contemplating suicide, on being assured by the physicians that 
his case was not quite desperate, " agreed to fight on a little longer." 

* The legal status of women made it needful to resort to various legal 
fictions when they drew wills, but they could execute effective testa- 
ments also. 

170 A Day in Old Rome 

A will implies much more than merely distributing one's 
property among near kin. Gordianus's widow and son were 
in feet well content when they found not more than two- 
fifths of the large estate was to pass outside the family. It 
is a deadly insult all the more deadly because the departed 
are beyond retaliation to fail to remember a familiar ac- 
quaintance with a sizable legacy. 1 

" When the tablets are opened " all Rome knows how a 
man has paid his social debts, usually to people who have 
no blood connection. 

Was the ex-sedile Numerius angry because he only re- 
ceived 10,000 sesterces ($400)? And why was that ill- 
mannered old eques Albinus left 20,000 ? And why was the 
banker Velocius, once such a confidant, left nothing at all ? 
Did Gordianus wish to brand the last-named as a scoundrel ? 
The list of slaves enfranchised, and also of those specifically 
refused enfranchisement is caref Tilly scanned ; as well as vari- 
ous legacies to certain great advocates who have evidently 
rendered Gordianus service in tight law-suits, and above all a 
sum of 100,000 sesterces ($4000) to " Our Lord Hadrianus 
Augustus Caesar." Gordianus had been by no means a great 
intimate at the palace, but it would have been most untactful 
to fail to remember the Emperor. Under bad rulers such a 
slight would probably involve the actual setting aside of the 
will, posthumous charges of treason, and the ruin of the heirs 
by the confiscation of the entire property. Under a good 
Emperor such an insertion puts the donor's son in good odor 
with the government, and insures that the imperial procura- 
tors (who guard their master's property) will assist in de- 
fending the will if disgruntled kinsmen should try to break it. 

1 Still greater revenge could be taken by making insulting references 
in wills to old enemies, making them bequests of no value, or burdened 
with unwelcome conditions, or even explaining at length, without fear 
of a slander suit, why no bequest was left to them at all ! 

Physicians and Funerals 171 

148. Regular Incomes from Legacies. Professional 
Legacy Hunters. The granting of legacies is in fact so 
ordinary a part of Roman life that distinguished men like 
Cicero and Pliny the Younger can almost count on a steady 
flow of bequests (often from people whom they know but 
slightly) as part of their income. Gordianus is leaving a 
mature and proper son to take over his great name, clients, 
and a good share of his property. His bequests therefore 
are relatively small, and that fact robs his will of most of its 
interest. If, however, he had been childless, all Rome would 
have been agog as soon as people knew that he was dying. 
Great, if evil, are " the advantages of childlessness." The 
rich bachelor is sure of obsequious service from innumerable 
quarters. The more he coughs and the paler he grows, the 
more the presents he receives and the more do loudly con- 
doling friends press to his bedside. They reach the very 
depth of servility, and sometimes they are rewarded. 

Years ago Horace gave directions to the successful legacy 
hunter. " If a man hands you his will to read, be sure to 
refuse and push the wax tablets from you yet take a side- 
glance to catch the second line of the first table [below the 
preamble]. Run your eye quickly along to see whether you 
are the sole heir or one of many." If the prospective victim 
has a " crafty woman, or a freedman looking after the do- 
tard, strike a partnership with them and praise them to him, 
that they may praise you behind your back." Then when 
the testator at last dies lament him loudly, as a " worthy and 
true friend/' shed as many tears as you can, and don't grudge 
a splendid funeral. 

Thus fortunes can be and often are won, but not invariably. 
In Trajan's reign there died a rich Domitius TuIIus. He 
allowed the legacy hunters to fasten upon him ; to shower 
him with all kinds of favors then he actually left every- 
thing to a niece and to grandchildren. All Rome was 

172 A Day in Old Rome 

divided : " Perfidious hypocrite ! " some gossips buzzed in 
the great baths ; but others praised him for " cheating the 
hopes of the rascals." 

149. Public Bequests. Gordianus, besides these legacies 
to friends, also makes some public bequests. This is an age 
when the rich are expected to justify their good fortune by 
showering favors upon the community. If the rich testator 
had lived in a municipal town, he would have been expected 
in his life time to have provided feasts, public games, new 
civic buildings, and probably to have repaired the city walls. 
As it is, he leaves the cost of a good gladiator fight to an 
Italian town that once elected him patron; increases the 
endowment for a public library which he had earlier founded 
at another such town near one of his villas ; and institutes a 
trust fund to provide an annual feast in honor of his " Manes " 
to be shared in by all the freedmen of his family and by their 
own descendants. 

160. Great Funerals Very Fashionable. Desire to Be 
Remembered after Death. Before he died, Gordianus 
also gave particular orders about his funeral. Every Roman 
seems to look forward to his obsequies with a melancholy, 
but an enormous interest. If he is poor, he hoards his money 
and joins a cooperative burial society to provide for final 
rites that will be long remembered. If he is rich, he will 
leave nothing undone to succeed in impressing the entire city 
that it has lost an important citizen. Under the Republic 
the funerals of great personages were really public pageants, 
deliberately calculated to teach young nobles the glory of a 
long career spent in the service of the state. Under the 
Empire these customs are still maintained, although often 
they are nothing more than vulgar displays showing forth 
the wealth of the deceased, 

The age does not believe earnestly in immortality. Epi- 

Physicians and Funerals 173 

cureans deny it outright, and Stoics more than doubt. Some- 
times a very gross view of death is taken, that it is merely 
the careless end of a round of sensual pleasures. You can 
occasionally read on tombstones inscriptions like this: 
" Bathing, wine, and love-a/airs these hurt our bodies, but 
they make life worth living. I've lived my days. I revelled, 
and I drank all that I desired. Once I was not; then I was; 
now I am not again but I don't care!" 1 But most per- 
sons, especially grave Stoics like Gordianus, view death other- 
wise. Death means a going out into the dark ; a process of 
being forgotten by those who once loved or admired you. 
If, by a splendid funeral, you can make your memory last a 
little longer, who would fail having one? Hence the ex- 
cuse for very costly obsequies, often for unimportant indi- 

151. Preliminaries to a Funeral. The moment Gordi- 
anus seemed to be breathing his last his son bent over his 
face as if to catch his final sigh. Then immediately the 
young man called his father three tunes " Quintus ! Quintus ! 
Quintus 1 " partly to make sure he was dead ; partly as a 
signal to start off all the expectant slaves and freedmen in 
loud and frenzied lamentation through all the wide domus. 
A messenger promptly summoned a fashionable libitinarius 
(funeral director) who undertook to conduct everything in 
the best possible style. While the house rang with outcries, 
professional experts washed the body in warm water and took 
immediately a waxen impression of the features. 

The dead was thereupon dressed in an embroidered toga, 
such as he might have worn when a magistrate, and was 
placed on a gilded couch in the atrium with the feet towards 
the door, besides which was set a bunch of cypress or pine, 
in token of the sorrow in the house. Skillful embalmers 

1 An actual tomb inscription. 

174 A Day in Old Rome 

were available and the actual funeral could have been de- 
layed as much as a week. This was not necessary, however, 
and the ceremony took place in two days time enough to 
arrange the great pyre and other necessary matters. 

The old practice was for every funeral to be held at night, 
and " funeral torches " were once about as common along the 
streets as the more festive marriage torches. But under the 
Empire the greater display can, of course, be made by day- 
time, although by a peculiar survival a few torch bearers 
will solemnly march along in the procession as if to outvie 
the sunlight. 

The mustering of a large funeral procession calls for no 
mean executive skill. If the deceased is from an old family, 
persons must be hired to wear all the death masks found in 
his atrium, and costumes improvised or rented so that the 
wearers can appear as consuls, prsetors, etc., and all the 
various articles and exhibits needful for the procession must 
be assembled. Above all there must appear at the house of 
mourning a clever Greek actor, selected partly because of 
some physical resemblance to the dead. This is the archi- 
mimus, who carefully confers with Gordianus's freedmen 
and even with his son to learn the speech, mannerisms, and 
the personal foibles of the departed. 

152. The Funeral Procession. The Display of Masked 
" Ancestors." At last at a time sure to command the best 
attention, the criers begin going about all the streets where 
Gordianus is likely to have had friends. They shout a for- 
mula in quaint, archaic Latin. " This citizen, Quintus Gor- 
dianus, is being surrendered to death. For those who find 
it convenient, now is the time for his funeral. He is being 
borne from his house ! " and the procession sets forth com- 
manded by a master-undertaker the pompous designator. 

At the head marches a band of players, their flutes, lyres, 
and dulcimers keeping up a most melancholy music. Then 

Physicians and Funerals 175 

unavoidably follows a whole platoon of professional clpwns 
and buffoons singing ribald songs and shouting very coarse 
jokes to the thronging spectators. Next, apparently, there 
walks Gordianus himself it is the archimimus dressed like 
the ex-consul, imitating his gait, gestures, and voice, and even 
making broad personal jests at the expense of the deceased. 
Then follows the really imposing part of the display, and the 
bereaved widow and her son thrill with aristocratic pride at 
the thought of it. Theirs is a very old house, and a hundred 
actors are needed to wear all the wax imagines (often battered 
and blackened) from the great cupboards in the atrium. All 
his " curule ancestors " going back to the Gallic invasion 
seem to be accompanying Gordianus to the grave. The spec- 
tators are checking off the " consuls " and " sediles " on 
their fingers, and at last some cry " a censor," and presently 
even more admiringly a " dictator." l One can almost feel 
that it is no misfortune to die, if only one can look forward 
properly to this moment of posthumous glory. 

153. The Exhibits in the Procession. The Retinue 
around the Bier. Behind the procession of death-masks 
come slaves bearing on poles large crudely sketched pictures 
upon boards, showing incidents in the Dacian wars where 
then* master commanded as one of Trajan's legates. Gordi- 
anus also had dabbled in literature, and copies of his essays 
and poems are now tied on tall rods and carried along con- 
spicuously by the marchers. Next comes the corpse itself 
exposed to view, upon a couch decked with purple, fretted 
with gold, and carried aloft upon the shoulders of eight picked 
bearers. All can see that Gordianus wears the "triumphal 

1 A hundred imagines of curule ancestors would be a very respectable 
but not an extraordinary showing. When young Marcellus (Augustus's 
nephew) died, six hundred imagines of noble ancestors were borne in his 

176 A Day in Old Rome 

ornaments," the laurel wreath as well as the toga prsetexta 
awarded the favorite generals in the army. 1 

After that follows the family procession. Young Gordi- 
anus is robed in black, and leads by the hand his motner, a 
venerable matron, who wears the mourning color for women, 
white, and who lets her gray locks stream in disorder over 
her shoulders. If he had possessed sisters, they would now 
tear their hair, dig their nails in their cheeks, and utter pierc- 
ing cries of grief. This clamor is produced sufficiently by a 
group of slave women led by two or three professional female 
wailers who, at intervals, set up a shrill chant of lamentation 
for the dead. Next follow a great company of Gordianus's 
more distinguished friends, all walking with down-cast looks 
and clad in black or sad-colored togas. After them is the 
large retinue from the familia, first the older freedmen, then 
groups of ex-slaves wearing tall caps token of manumission 
by will, and trying not to appear too exultant in their new 
freedom, then bringing up the rear the whole group of actual 
slaves, supposed to be torn with grief at the loss of " so good 
a master." 

154. The Funeral Oration in the Forum. The procession 
heads at first not toward the place of the final pyre but toward 
the Old Forum. The honor of a public funeral oration is 
granted to practically every distinguished citizen, including 
many noblewomen. Indeed, this use of the Forum is an ex- 
tremely common occurrence. The space around the orator's 
stand (the rostra) has been cleared of idlers, and an array of 
suitable " curule chairs " has been set out for all the wearers 
of the death masks, as if they were again sitting like the 
magistrates of old. 

After a suitable delay a kinsman of the deceased, a senator 
somewhat vain of his reputation as an orator, mounts the 

1 Under the Empire only the Emperor could actually ride in a triumph ; 
but his lieutenants could enjoy the "triumphal ornaments." 

Physicians and Funerals 177 

rostra and delivers a fulsome eulogy. It is notorious that 
such rt laudations " never stick closely to the truth. The 
audience is made to understand that Gordianus was a very 
Cato the Elder in personal virtue and a Scipio Africanus in 
his success as a general. When that ceremony is completed 
the whole company sets forth again this time toward one 
of the gates beyond which is the funeral pyre. 1 

155. Family Tombs. The Columbarium and the Garden. 
Burials are not unknown in Rome, but most bodies are 
disposed of by cremation. Even persons of very modest 
means will try to provide money for a good pyre. This is 
partly because the very poor, the worthless slaves, and the 
lowest of the plebeians, are not burned, but their bodies simply 
are dumped in hideous open pits not far from the Esquiline 
itself. Nothing is done to the bodies thus exposed except 
to leave them to the dogs and ravens, and only the favor of 
Jupiter averts from the city an incessant pestilence in con- 
sequence. Long since, however, Gordianus's family has 
erected along the Appian Way (though another frequented 
highroad could have been selected) a stately tomb, calculated 
to attract attention from all passers. 

Handsome tombs can take many forms'; there is even a 
good-sized stone pyramid, 116 feet high, erected to guard the 
ashes of Gaius Cestius, a great man under Augustus. That 
of the Gordiani is of a more modest character; a circular 
masonry tower, about fifty feet in diameter and rather higher, 
surmounted by castellated battlement adorned with life- 
sized marble statues of famous members of the family. In- 
side there is no huge chamber for a sarcophagus, but simply 
a series of arched vaults the walls of which are honey-combed 
with little niches, each intended to receive a funeral urn. 

1 The granting of an actual funeral pyre inside of Rome was an extraor- 
dinary honor reserved only for emperors and other unusually favored 


A Day in Old Rome 

This kind of interior, therefore, is not unhappily called a 
columbarium a " pigeon-cote " ; and here will be placed 
not merely the urns of all the regular scions of the family, but 
(in inferior niches of course) those of all the freedmen and 
even of all the better loved slaves. The ashes of the Gordiani, 
mighty or humble therefore rest all together. 

SCENE ALONG THE APPIAN WAY : showing the tombs and the gay crowds 


Outside this massive tower there is a considerable open 
compound, laid out as a pleasant garden, with shrubbery, 
flower-beds, and a little lodge for the slave in residence who 
acts as caretaker. There is even a small but handsome 
building, where members of the family can meet for the 
periodic feasts in honor of the dear departed. Handsome 
statues and fine bas-reliefs on the inclosing walls abound, 
and the place in short seems much more like a small pleasure 
park than a cemetery. This mortuary compound, however, 
is one of the better types of inclosures. The taste displayed 

Physicians and Funerals 


in some adjacent is execrable. Already across the Appian 
Way opposite, a rich freedman has purchased a large lot and 
is erecting in his own life-time a tall central statue of himself, 
flinging money from a bag to the populace, with the base 
surrounded by bas-reliefs showing his favorite small dog, 
some gladiator fights, and deep-laden craft under full sail 
to explain how he made his money. 1 

PYRAMID TOMB OF GAIUS CESTIUS : Ostia Gate of the Wall of Aurelian 
(built circ. 275 A.D.) in background. 

For many miles out into the Campagna around Rome ex- 
tend these strange cemeteries not in seclusion, but passed 
by incessant traffic. Some of the monuments are magnifi- 
cent, some simple ; they illustrate almost every type of sculp- 
ture but the object of nearly all is the same, to remind 
the living of the one-time existence of the dead, and so to 

1 This, of course, was the monument which Trimalchio, Petronius's 
famous character, arranged for himself. 


A Day in Old Rome 

provide a kind of spurious immortality often for very com- 
monplace persons, in an age when the immortality of the soul 
seems no favored doctrine. 

156. The Funeral Pyre and Its Ceremonies. At last 
the funeral procession has reached the great mausoleum of 
the Gordiani. The pyre of choice wood, sprinkled with 
perfumes, unguents, and costly spices is ready at a safe dis- 


Restored after Von Falke. 

tance. The sides of the pile have been covered with dark 
leaves, while cypress boughs have been set upon the top. 
Amid these the bier and the corpse, just as they have been 
borne, are now planted and various articles of clothing, 
jewelry, trinkets, etc., used by the deceased are next placed 
upon the pyre. If the ex-counsel had been a younger man 
fond of hunting, deer nets and boar spears might have been 
added; or favored horses and dogs slaughtered and their 
carcasses added to the pile. 

Physicians and Funerals 


At length all is ready. Young Gordianus is handed a 
torch, and with averted face he touches it to the wood im- 
pregnated with perfumed oils. Instantly a great blaze shoots 
up, the smoke from the aromatic wood smelling most sweetly. 
The company waits in mournful silence until the tall pyre 
collapses and the bier "has been utterly consumed. Then as 


the fire glows away, several loyal freedmen dash forward 
and quench it with great jars of chilled wine. Certain cal- 
cined bones and ashes are collected, wrapped in fine linen 
cloths and placed in a superb funeral urn, blue and white 
glass cut into exquisite designs, showing boys piping and 
treading the grapes in a festival of Bacchus. The last mor- 
tal remains of the departed senator are, therefore, at rest 
amid scenes eminently cheerful. 

182 A Day in Old Rome 

157. Funeral Monuments. Memorial Feasts to the Dead. 
The ceremony is over. " Vale! " and again " Vale! " 
cries all the company ere departing. The urn will now be 
placed in one of the niches in the columbarium; but in 
Gordianus's honor they will erect a special statue, at its base 
chiseled a peaceful ship gliding steadily toward a distant 
shore; the son and widow evidently recalling the peaceful 
thoughts of Cicero in his essay " On Old Age " " I find the 
nearer I come to the time of death the more I feel like one 
who begins to see land, and knows that sometime he will 
enter the harbor after the long voyage." 

On Gordianus's birthday, on the anniversary of his death, 
and also for eight days in February sacred to the honored 
dead, his heirs and loyal freedmen will visit the spot, deck his 
statue with wreaths of roses, violets, and other flowers, sacri- 
fice a black sheep or pig to the " Manes," and indulge in a 
feast in his honor. This will be kept up, perhaps, until his 
own son is placed on the pyre and the fame of the " great 
Gordianus " has sunk to the barest memory. 

158. Funerals of the Poor. "Funeral Societies." 
We have witnessed obsequies of a rich senator. Less favored 
persons, of course, are buried with ever-increasing degrees of 
simplicity. There is almost no religious element in Roman 
funerals. The bodies of unfortunates can be disposed of with 
brutal abruptness and lack of decorum, but the great host 
of plebeians and of those freedmen who cannot hope for an 
urn in the columbarium of a noble family have a recourse. 
They oftefl. club together in a " Funeral Society." Every- 
body pays a fixed assessment into a common chest ; out of 
these funds space is hired in one of the great public columbaria 
which are often erected as legitimate speculations. When a 
member dies he is assured of a respectable procession of buf- 
foons and weepers (imagines being out of the question), a 
private harangue in his honor, and a thoroughly adequate 

Physicians and Funerals 183 

funeral pyre. Funds not needed for this purpose are spent 
on feasts once or more a year in which the names of dead 
members are solemnly commemorated. 

Some of these funeral " colleges " are really elaborate 
affairs, with considerable ritual, a permanent hall, and a 
corps of elective officers, " praetors/' " curators/' etc., whose 
tinsel pomp makes the wearers forget that most of the time 
they are humble plebeians or even slaves. The collegia, in 
other words, appeal to those who in another age may find a 
certain inferior type of " lodge " very congenial. They are 
grandiloquently named for some patron god, calling them- 
selves " The Worshippers (cultores) of Apollo," or perhaps 
for an Oriental deity, " The Servants of Serapis " ; but their 
fundamental purpose is the same ; to insure against the horrid 
thought of having one's body flung into the open pits of the 
potter's field and then perhaps having one's ghost wander 
in misery over sea and land instead of finding a calm oblivion 
in Hades. 


159. Theoretical Rights of Father over Children. The 
Patria Potestas. When a child is born into a Roman home 
the father has complete legal rights even as in Athens to 
determine whether it is to live or to die. 1 If theoretically 
he has the terrific power as pater familias to kill his children 
in later life if they merely displease him, how much more can 
he claim the right to decide that " This boy will be one too 
many/' or " We can afford no more girls," or " This child 
will be sickly and deformed." If his decision is adverse, 
mother and nurse may beseech in vain ; the babe is simply 
" exposed " that is, carried by a slave to some spot 
by the highway and left to perish. This harsh old law is 

Possibly such deserted children will be taken up by those 
whose homes are desolate and who require consolation. 
There is a greater and fouler chance that such babes will be 
carried away and reared by human harpies who raise boys 
and girls to sell as victims of gross wickedness among the 
rich, or who even mutilate the children to convert them into 
grotesque buffoons or pathetic beggars to wheedle the coppers 
from the tender-hearted. Perhaps some of those horribly 
deformed creatures who cry " Give ! Give ! " behind the 
litters of the senators are blood relations to the gilded lords 
themselves. This is physically possible, if we can believe 
many ugly stories. 

1 Compare "A Pay m Old Athens," p. 57. 


Children and Schooling 185 

Legal right and actual custom can often, however, stand 
miles asunder. No Roman gladly will see his house dying 
out, despite the " advantages of childlessness." In fact to 
keep up the family name, resort is often had to adoption, some- 
times of mature adults, to an extent quite unknown in other 
ages. The upper classes under the Empire are dwindling so 
rapidly, thanks to many causes, that rare indeed is the house 
where a lawful child is unwelcome ; and in the lower classes 
fathers are fathers still. In short though the cruel old " right 
of exposure " exists, it is not exercised often enough to make 
its practice a wholesale evil, and a man of distinction who 
exposes a babe (unless his family is remarkably large and 
expensive) will fall under social ostracism; in fact the 
Emperor may even be advised to strike him from the list of 
senators or equites as " a bad citizen." 

160. Ceremonies after Birth of a Child. The BuUa. 
The birth of a child in a good family is, therefore, the signal 
for no common rejoicing, and thanks to the favored position 
of Roman women, girls are not a serious discount as against 
boys. Then comes the grand celebration the lustratio, 
the name-day for the babe. 

This occurs nine days after the birth of boys and the 
eighth after that of girls; the idea being not to name the 
child prematurely lest it die in first infancy. The ceremony 
takes place in the atrium. The mother cannot, perhaps, 
be present, but there is a general gathering of the near friends, 
kinsmen, clients, etc., before whom the nurse solemnly 
presents herself and then lays her little bundle of swaddling 
clothes at the feet of its father. With equal solemnity the 
father bends and takes up the infant and with his formal 
" lifting up " the whole company raises a shout of joy. 1 

1 The father might have "taken up" the child earlier to indicate his 
intentions not to expose it, but some later act of legal acknowledgment 
before witnesses was necessary. 

186 A Day in Old Rome 

Henceforth, the babe is of undoubted legitimacy, a member 
of the family, entitled to the protection alike of the family 
lares and of the public law, and a new citizen of the Roman 
state. Then the father, turning to the company, if the child 
is a boy, announces in clear voice his prsenomen, e.g., " Let 
the lad be called Marcus I " 

After these formalities are ended the kinsmen and also the 
favorite slaves rush forward and throw around the neck of 
the infant cords bearing little metal toys, tiny swords, axes, 
flowers, or even dolls, all called crepudia, from the manner in 
which they clank together. Most important of all, however, 
is the golden bulla, an elaborate locket containing charms, 
which the father himself hangs about the child's neck. If 
the family is poor, one of painted leather may answer, but a 
bulla there must be. It will never be laid aside permanently 
until the proud day when the grown-up lad " assumes the 
manly toga," or when the girl leaves her parents' house as a 

161. The Roman Name : Its Intricacy. It is no slight 
thing, this matter of the Roman personal names, and they 
are far more complicated than are the Greek. Under the 
Republic names were so standardized among the upper 
families, that those of a young nobleman were practically 
determined the moment he touched the cradle. How many 
" Appii Claudii " figure in the history of the Common- 
wealth! Omitting technicalities, practically every Roman 
citizen then had three names : his prcenomen, a personal 
designation something like the Christian " John " or 
" George," his nomen, fixed on him by his gens (special clan) 
such as Cornelius, Fabius, Julius, etc., and finally his cogno- 
men, which marked the particular family of the gens to which 
his father belonged. Caesar, Sulla, Cicero, Scipio, and the 
like were all cognomens corresponding closely to later-day 
surnames, and were anything but the individual property of 

Children and Schooling 187 

certain famous holders of the same. Thus even a cognomen 
could have many bearers, and sometimes a second cognomen 
was added such as Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica. 

This is all very well, but how few are the options left to the 
parents in selecting the prsenomen ! There are only eighteen 
regular Roman prsenomens, of which Marcus, Gaius, and 
Lucius are perhaps the most common. Certain families 
confine themselves to a very few prsenomens. Thus no Cor- 
nelian ever names his sons anything but Gnaeus, Lucius, 
and Publius unless the gods bless him with a fourth boy. 
The Domitii were nearly all either Gnseus or Lucius. Rare 
was the Claudian eldest son who escaped being called 
Appius. * 

These cases simply register what is true in most of the old 
families. The rule is to name your first son always after 
your own father. Thus Publius Calvus's young Titus is the 
grandson of a Titus and the great grandson of a Publius. 
His younger brother, however, was not thus named by rigid 
precedent. He could be named Decimus. 2 

162. Irregular and Lengthy Names tinder the Empire. 
Names of Slaves. Things are far more irregular, however, 
since the Empire has brought the Roman name along with 
the Roman citizenship to hordes of freedmen and foreigners. 
They Latinize their alien names, or they take an altered form 
of their ex-master's names, for example, Claudianus Li- 
cinianus ; or often, being complete upstarts, swell around with 
absurdly long names often meaning nothing at all. This is 
true even of some high officers, and there is now ruling as 
proconsul of Africa a senator calling himself pompously 
Titus Csesarinus Statius Quintius Statianus Memmius 
Macrinus, while that of the governor of North Britain, a 

1 And hardly anybody outside the Claudian gens was ever named 

* Literally '* Number Ten " ; but that meaning had disappeared. 

188 A Day in Old Rome 

certain " Pollio," has nine names if you give him his full 
title. 1 

As for slaves they were ordinarily called in simpler days of 
the Republic merely " Marcipor," or " Lucipor," etc., 
" Marcus's boy," or " Lucius's boy " ; but such descriptions 
in the days of the great familise become impossible. Most 
house slaves are either named for Greek deities or heroes, 
or else for some Oriental potentate, precisely as " Caesar " 
and " Pompey " will figure on slave plantations of another 
day. " Mithridates," " Pharnaces," "Cyrus," and the 
like appear in every atrium. There are also plenty of hand- 
some boys answering to such fine names as " Eros," " Poly- 
dorus," " Xenophon"; or who are named for their native 
country as " Syrax " for a Syrian, and " Cappadox " for a 

163. Names of Women. Confusion of Roman Names. 
When a girl is born in an old family her chance of a dis- 
tinctive name seems even less than that of her brothers. 
There are really no recognized prsenomens for girls, and until 
lately there have been hardly any regular cognomens. 
Calvus's daughter should have been merely called Junia for 
her gens : " The Junian Woman." If it is needful, however, 
to separate her from her cousins, she can be called Junia 
Calm " Calvus's Junia." If she had a younger sister, she 
would be simply " Junia Prima " as against " Junia Sec- 
unda " Junia No. 1 and Junia No. 2. 

This kind of effacement is, however, becoming very dis- 
pleasing to high-spirited Roman women. They are now 
asserting their personality by demanding special names. 
The result is that they are getting a kind of irregular cog- 
nomens. Calvus's daughter is, therefore, known as Junia 
Gratia (from her mother), and should the house be favored 

1 Very many such lengthy names are found under Hadrian. 

Children and Schooling 189 

with another young mistress, she will probably be Junia 
Ccdva in compliment to her father's cognomen. 

Nevertheless, with every explanation, the names alike of 
men and women at Rome are utterly confusing. Duplication 
seems incessant and anything like a complete directory of 
the city would apparently carry many pages of identical 
entries. Of course, a ready use of nicknames (constantly 
invented by Italian ingenuity) overcomes the actual dif- 
ficulty. Among near friends or dependents it is quite proper 
to cry " Hail, Spurius ! " or " Well said, Tiberius" ; but it is 
an impolite familiarity to employ the prsenomen except for 
intimates. Ordinarily the cognomen is the proper form, used, 
be it said, without any " Sir " or " Mister/' and in the Senate 
the archaic usage requires that the Conscript Fathers should be 
summoned by prsenomen and gentile name only. "Die, Marce 
Tulle," " Speak, Marcus Tullius," was the form by which 
Cicero was often called before he began his great orations. 

164. Care of Parents in Educating Children. So a 
Roman child receives that great thing, his name. What is 
the course of his life if he grows to manhood ? Very much the 
same as in other civilized lands, where most parents are lov- 
ing and where most children bring joy to the house. Boys 
and girls, until school age, are largely in the hands of the 
womenfolk. Gratia's old nurse, brought with her to Calvus's 
house, is still more of a beloved mentor and tyrant to Gratia's 
children, usually bribing her Charges to be good " with honey, 
nuts and sweet-cakes." But as soon as boys, at least, begin 
to pass out of early childhood their fathers are expected to 
take them in hand, and even a man of high rank is criticized 
if he leaves his sons too much to the guidance of paid tutors 
and of slaves. 

This paternal discipline may be harsh but it is seldom 
negligent. Boys are taught to go with their fathers almost 
everywhere ; to watch and listen in silence, but to ask intel- 

190 A Day in Old Rome 

ligent questions afterward. Thus young Titus is already 
old enough to accompany his father Calvus to the sessions 
of the Senate itself. On a seat reserved near the door for 
senators' sons he listens through many a solemn debate. 
Presently the routine of business is so familiar to him, that he 
presumptuously thinks he can correct the consul on certain 
points of order. He and his companions of like rank already 
are playing " praetor's court " with one of them on the 
tribunal and the others (like their parents) the orators in the 
great basilica. As the good old customs have waned this 
companionship of fathers and sons has perhaps somewhat 
waned also but it still remains one of the worthiest features 
of the Roman training. 

165. Toys and Pets. Roman children lack nothing in 
playthings. All but the elaborate mechanical toys of a later 
age are at their disposal. Little children have their rattles, 
balls, and carts. Small Junia plays with very life-like dolls 
of ivory, wax, and painted terra cotta, often fashioned by 
exceedingly skilful Greek craftsmen. She and her brothers 
rejoice in swings and hobby horses, while Titus and young 
Decimus also make glad in a finely painted " century " of 
wooden soldiers and in tops, hoops, and marbles such as 
are transmitted almost unchanged across the ages, and 
they receive somewhat suspiciously (as soon as they are of 
proper age) a gift of a carefully carved set of wooden letters, 
a sly device for teaching the alphabet. 

Much more welcome than these last are, of course, the New 
Year and birthday presents of tame nightingales, talking 
parrots, and caged blackbirds, of dogs, large and small, of 
that somewhat rare animal from Egypt a delightful furry 
cat, and best of all when they grow a little older being 
children of a senator, each a well-broken pony of little use 
in Rome, but a splendid comrade when the family goes to its 

Children and Schooling 191 

As they get older still a decent allowance of pocket money 
is added and an earnest attempt is made to teach the children 
financial responsibility, to add accounts, to save their ses- 
terces, and not to run up bills. It is not ungenteel, however, 
for a youth of family to be an easy spender, and Pliny the 
Younger has scolded a friend as outrageously severe for 
" thrashing his son because he was too lavish in buying 
horses and dogs." 

166. The Learning of Greek by Roman Children. Even 
before formal schooling begins, the young Calvi, like all other 
Romans of the better class, have begun an important part 
of their education the learning of Greek. The Athenian 
education was a single-language education with no studies 
outside those of the mother tongue. 1 The Roman education 
is a bi-lingual education. 

Without Greek everybody confesses that a full half (prob- 
ably more) of the world's entire wit and wisdom is locked 
away. Without Greek not merely must a man refuse to 
claim the least real culture; he is handicapped in all the 
professions and in most forms of business. He can have no 
commercial dealings with the Levant. If he travels anywhere 
East of the Adriatic, he can hardly make himself understood 
outside of the governors' prsetoria and the camps. Even into 
the literary "Latin there have crept an enormous number of 
Greek terms, mostly having to do with matters of learning or 
luxury. In short without the mastery of Greek a Roman 
of any ambitions is hopelessly lost. 

A scholar need not, however, bother about any third 
language. Practically all Levantines can jabber some Greek, 
even though their accent be abominable, and their native 
tongue Syriac or Coptic. As for Spaniards, Gauls, and 
Britons doubtless interpreters are needful if you visit their 

i See "A Day in Old Athens, " p. 63. 

192 A Day in Old Rome 

crude villages, but all their upp^r classes are now busily 
learning Latin just as they are learning the joys of Roman 
baths, circus races, and cookery. With Latin and Greek you 
are ready to meet the world. 

Greek is taught in the schools, but hardly as a painfully 
acquired foreign language. From infancy Titus, Decimus, 
and Junia have had Greek-speaking attendants, and their 
own parents (very fair Greek scholars) take pains to talk in 
good Attic part of the time while they play with them. As 
the children grow up about half of all the more elegant and 
refined conversation they must hear will be in Greek and 
so through all their education. The result will be that Junia 
may turn out to be a learned lady like the poetess Julia 
Balbilla, the Empress Sabina's friend, who has written some 
very fine Greek elegiacs, 1 " worthy of Sappho, " say her 
friends ; or Titus if he dabbles in philosophy, may write a 
long treatise in good Attic prose as well as can his contem- 
porary the destined emperor, Marcus Aurelius. 

167. Selection of a School. In the good old days a 
father was expected not merely to give his son moral and 
practical lessons, but actually to be his schoolmaster to flog 
reading, writing, and* a little arithmetic into him ; even as 
Cato the Elder (234-149 B.C.) boasted that he did with his 
own son. But that stage has long passed, and the main 
question now for every boy or girl is, " tutors or school ? " 
No doubt families of the highest rank find private tutors 
fashionable and convenient ; thus such a personage as Au- 
gustus employed the skilful freedman, Verrius Flaccus, to 
teach his grandsons; but the advantages of contact with 
other children of about the same social class are clearly 
understood. The young Calvi, therefore, have been sent to 

1 These verses have been preserved to the present age by being in- 
scribed upon the foot of the colossal statue of the "Speaking Memnon" 
in Egypt, during the visit there of Hadrian and Sabina. 

Children and Schooling 193 

a carefully selected school. This arrangement is exceptionally 
good because their father's colleague, the ex-prsetor Aponius, 
owns a remarkably gifted slave, one Euganor, who is allowed 
not merely to teach his master's children but (by a recog- 
nized custom) to take in others ; their fees going toward his 
peculium saved up to buy his freedom. 

168. Extent of Literacy in Rome. Education of Girls. 
Schools exist everywhere in Rome, and there are all sorts 
and conditions of schools. There is no system of public edu- 
cation, and probably a good many poor plebeians and 
slaves are barely literate enough to spell out the gladiator 
notices and to jot down a few accounts or memoranda ; but 
public opinion condemns parents who deny their children 
at least a little schooling, and absolutely illiterate persons 
are rare. 1 

Girls in poor families are rather less sure of instruction than 
boys, and in superior families they seldom pass on to the upper 
and the rhetoric schools; but apparently in the ordinary 
schools they frequently go with their brothers on terms of 
perfect equality. There seems to be no prudish separation of 
the sexes, although when the grown boys go off to learn the 
tricks of orators and philosophers, nobly-born girls spend the 
years just before their marriages under good tutors learn- 
ing the poets, and being taught a graceful proficiency in harp 
playing and also enough of dancing to give them the erect 
carriage and the stately, calm movements of destined 

169. Schools for the Lower Classes. Between the select 
establishment of Euganor in a side apartment of Aponius's 
great mansion and the cheapest type of school along Mer- 
cury Street there is a great gulf fixed. Any kind of a 

1 Of course, there would be many lower class Italians who, although 
fairly at ease with Latin, would be entirely unfamiliar with Greek. 


A Day in Old Rome 

shelter will do for a low-grade school, and any kind of a 
half -educated fellow can set up as a school teacher. 

Take for example poor Platorius who, having failed as an 
inn-keeper at Ostia, is trying to earn a living by leasing a 
vacant shop near the Insula Flavia. The shallow room opens 
directly upon the noisy street, and the passing throngs divert 

the children, while the 
clamors of the children 
distress all the semi- 
invalids in the big in- 
sula. Every thrashing 
by the master attracts a 
knot of brutal idlers just 
outside. Platorius's 
school is of the lowest 
grade, but he has- to 
make a certain pretence 
of learning by setting up 
a few chipped busts of 
BOY STUDYING. Homer, Virgil, Horace, 

etc., and erecting a high 

seat (cathedra) for himself. His class sits before him on long 
backless benches. There are no desks, and every child 
holds his smudgy wax-covered tablets uncomfortably upon 
his knee, as he copies or erases with his stylus. 1 

To all the better schools the children come each accom- 
panied by his or her " pedagogue," much after the Greek 
manner; a private slave being especially assigned to each 
boy or girl, and obligated to lead his charge to and from 
school, help with the lessons, guard the child's morals, and 
even assist in chastising. 2 But few of Platorius's pupils come 

1 The writing end of the stylus (bone or metal) was sharp. The oppo- 
site end was blunt and flattened for erasing on the soft wax. 
* See "A Day in Old Athens," p. 64. 

Children and Schooling 195 

from parents who can afford the luxury of a pedagogue for 
their children. They appear by themselves so early in the 
morning in winter time that they have to bear smoky lan- 
terns ; the most self-sufficient of them being " the sons of 
centurions, with satchels and tablets hung on their left arms, 
and carrying every Ides (middle of the month) their fee of 
eight brass pieces each." [Horace.] Each boy has devoured 
a crust before leaving home and the school continues without 
recess until noon when there is an intermission of fair length 
to get the prandium or at least to buy some sausages from the 
street dealers, and perhaps to indulge in a short siesta. After 
that the deafening study is resumed, and there is relief in the 
neighboring tenements only when the school is dismissed 
towards dusk. 

170. Scourging, Clamors, and Other Abuses of Cheap 
Schools. A school is no asset to the neighborhood. Vainly 
do the satiric poets implore a teacher to " be kind to his 
scholars " and to " lay aside his Scythian scourge with its 
horrible thongs " and his " terrible cane, the schoolmaster's 
scepter." Poor Platorius knows well enough that the type of 
parents who employ him believes the old maxim " he who is 
not flogged is not educated." The Romans are a military 
people and the ideal of a school is always somewhat the 
stern discipline of the centurion with his vine-stock (see 
p. 323). Precepts in many a classroom are enforced with 
curses and blows, and Seneca has declared in disgust that it is 
a common thing " to find a man in a violent passion teaching 
you that to be in a passion is wrong." 

The children, too, are often permitted to study their 
lessons aloud even as in the schools of the Orient. All this 
adds to the buzzing confusion, so that it is claimed that a 
school causes more noise than a blacksmith at his anvil or 
the amphitheater applauding a favorite gladiator. 

The teaching and the flogging keep up through a long 


A Day in Old Rome 


season. The school year begins on March 24th, when 
Platorius painfully counts the entrance fees brought by each 
scholar, reckoning himself lucky if he does not have to split his 
gains with the pedagogues who attend a favored few of the 

^ children. There is a 
considerable holiday in 
summer when it is too 
hot to study, and chil- 
dren of good family 
are likely to be attend- 
ing their parents in 
the country. There 
is another interval of 
about a week at the 
Saturnalia and over 
New Year's Day ; another just before the new school year 
begins in March. Otherwise, except for the more important 
religious festivals, and the " Nones " (5th or 7th days of 
each month), the studying and the beating go on, with rather 
fewer holidays than in the twentieth century. 

Platorius is near the bottom of the educational ladder. His 
fees are only about four sesterces (16 cents) per month per 
pupO, and he is none too sure of prompt payment. The 
miserable room costs something for rental. If his pupils 
fail to progress, their parents storm at him and promptly 
shift to another master. In short he leads a dog's life. The 
green grocer and the copperpot monger .who have stalls 
opposite the school despise him as entirely beneath them. 

171. A Superior Type of School. Quite different is the 
atmosphere of Euganor's schoolroom. He is technically a 
slave, but a slave of very superior class. The children come 
to him accompanied not merely by extremely genteel peda- 
gogues but by subordinate slaves, capsarii, who carry their 
books and tablets, and the establishment has a convenient 

Children and Schooling 197 

ante-room, where all these gentry can foregather and match 
gossip, " My master says " while their charges are being 

The school itself is held in an elegant chamber adorned 
with fine frescos of historical events such as the campaigns 
of Alexander, speaking statues of great literary figures, and, 
conspicuous upon the wall, an elaborately painted map of 
the Roman Empire, " for/' affirms Euganor, " the boys 
should have daily before their eyes all the seas and lands, and 
all cities and peoples comprehended therein; for the name 
and position of places, the distance between them, the source 
and outflow of rivers, the coastline with all its seaboard, its 
gulfs and its straits are better taken in by the eye than by 
the ear." 1 Euganor, too, has his rod and does not bear it in 
vain, but he never allows his discipline to degenerate into 
stupid cruelty. He is, in short, an extremely competent man 
who studies each of his charges carefully and who would prove 
an excellent teacher in any schoolroom in any age. 

172. Methods of Teaching. All Roman schools are small. 
The idea of vast " graded " establishments where year after 
year pupils are passed from teacher to teacher and at last 
" graduated " has occurred to no man. Platorius conducts 
his school entirely alone. Euganor has a couple of efficient 
monitors, but neither he nor Platorius tries to handle more 
than say thirty pupils. Many of Euganor's pupils came to 
him while little more than babies and will only leave him 
when actually ready for the rhetoric schools. He is largely 
responsible for their entire elementary education, although 
many of the higher class children know the Latin and Greek 
alphabet and can spell a little before being put under his 

1 These are the words of Eumenius, a teacher of about 300 A.D., but 
they would have been equally proper in the age of Hadrian. 

198 A Day in Old Rome 

This is no place for a real discussion of the actual forms of 
education. First there comes the mere teaching of reading, 
writing, and simple arithmetic, with very little use of books, 
the master dictating sentences and correcting the tablets 
whereon the children write them down. Such a teacher as 
Platorius may have a few musty rolls of papyrus which his 
charges are allowed to handle gingerly, but " First Readers " 
as understood in later schools are unknown. Euganor is 
better off, and a considerable library is at his disposal, al- 
though barring a few books of fables it contains little that is 
directly appealing to children. 

In the poorer schools the average master congratulates 
himself if his charges stay long enough to become fairly 
literate, but the better establishments, of course, accomplish 
far more. When a child can once read with tolerable fluency, 
and can write the characters on his wax tablets without 
wandering from the traced lines or needing too many cor- 
rections, he begins to have the great poets, especially Virgil 
and Horace in Latin and Homer in Greek, pounded into him. 
He is compelled to learn very long passages of such authors 
by heart, 1 and as an especially desirable exercise he is forced 
to translate both from Greek into Latin and also from Latin 
into Greek. 

Since many of Euganor's pupils will presumably become 
orators, they are furthermore aided to improve their diction 
also in every possible manner, to acquire a good stock of meta- 
phors, and to have on hand a great supply of apt, pungent 
quotations. All the possible meanings in the literary texts are 
explained, likewise the mythological, historical, and geographi- 
cal allusions, etc. The study of literature thus becomes 
what is really a form of a " General Information" course. 

1 Persons who could recite the whole of the Iliad and Odyssey from 
memory were not unknown, although they were usually learned slaves, 
not Romans of the higher class. 

Children and Schooling 199 

173. Training in Higher Arithmetic. Before the children 
leave Euganor they are also taught the higher forms of 
arithmetic. Prior to the coining of Arabic numerals this is 
pretty serious business, yet every Roman of property must 
be able to keep elaborate accounts, and not be too dependent 
upon his stewards. Indeed, in some superior schools a special 
arithmetic teacher is called in ; a calculator, who is entitled to 
demand extra large fees, although one suspects that most of 
his pupils are equites' sons who will probably engage in 
commerce. One thing, however, Euganor does not have to 
bother about physical culture. The Greeks can send 
their sons to the palcBstra and to the harpist to learn gym- 
nastics and music. The Romans try merely to see that their 
boys get exercise enough to keep them in good health, but 
they cannot grasp the practical value of a training that 
neither makes the lads better soldiers nor better men of 
business. Many Romans, of course, learn also about the fine 
arts, but never in the regular classroom. 

174. The Grammarians' High Schools. By then* early 
teens, however, even Euganor's pupils begin to forsake him. 
They are passed on to a higher teacher, a regular " gram- 
marian " (grammaticus) , who assumes that his charges are well 
grounded in the fundamentals, and who endeavors to instruct 
them in the real niceties of Greek and Latin literature. 
Sometimes also there is a specialist in each of the languages. 

In these high schools great stress is laid on proper pro- 
nunciation and elocution. Euclid's theorems in geometry 
are studied, and a good deal of history is fluently if not very 
critically taught. Much of the learning is superficial, for it 
is a fine thing in many circles to affect to be erudite, 1 and more 

1 A tombstone for a boy who died at the age of ten boasts that its 
subject "knew the dogmas of Pythagoras and the teaching of the books 
of the learned.' 1 He was also alleged to have read all of Homer and to 
have studied Euclid "tablets in hand." 


A Day in Old Rome 

stress is sometimes laid on absurd problems of mythology 
than upon learning sober facts. Grammarians who teach 
the sons of the parvenu rich are liable, indeed, to be scolded 
if they cannot themselves explain instantly " Who was 
Ajichises's nurse?" But the better grammarians' schools 

GRAMMARIAN INSTRUCTING Two UPPER PUPILS : an attendant (capsarius) 
standing at one side* 

turn out pupils who are not perhaps men of deep learning but 
who have a great fund of information, who can write a clear 
accurate Latin (and often a Greek) style, and generally 
carry themselves as cultivated young gentlemen. Those, 
however, who aspire to pass as highly educated will in- 
evitably go on to the still higher school of the rhetor. 

175. Oratory Very Fashionable. Oratory seems the 
keystone to success. True, the fall of the Republic makes 
it impossible to harangue the assembled Comitia in behalf of 
favorite candidates or proposed laws. Even in the Senate 
there are now grave limitations upon free eloquence. Never- 
theless, the desirability of " fame " as an orator seems in- 
calculable. To win your cause in the courts; to make a 

Children and Schooling 201 

crowded hall resound with applause at your set orations 
seems the height of peaceful triumph. Never will another 
age set more store on high-soaring formal talk than this age 
of the Roman Empire. The actual performances of pro- 
fessional orators and " readers " we can glance at later, and, 
of course, space lacks for any presentation of the " Science of 
Eloquence " ; but mention must be made of the rhetoric 
schools in which by ardent anticipation young Titus and 
Decimus Calvus are already winning laurels. 

176. Professional Rhetoricians. No slave or ordinary 
grammarian can hope to conduct a rhetoric school. The 
masters are either Romans of such rank that they can mingle 
with senators, or are distinguished Greeks fresh from the 
schools of Rhodes or Athens. 1 Not many years ago in 
Trajan's reign, a certain Isaeus came to Rome from Greece. 
He dazzled the noblest circles by his proficiency ; his diction 
was the purest Attic ; his sentences sparkled with epigrams. 
He called on his audience to name any mooted subjects it 
liked for discussion and to state on which side it wanted him to 
argue. Instantly he would rise, wrap his gown around him 
and " without losing a moment, begin, with everything at 
his finger tips no matter what subject was selected." Pre- 
sumably his thoughts and the information behind them were 
very superficial ; no matter, the flow of his logic, learning, and 
language set his audience into ecstasies. Calvus only hopes 
he can find an equally distinguished master for his own sons. 

177. Methods in Rhetoric Schools: Mock Trials. 
Rhetoric schools are arranged rather as halls of audience 

1 Senators, degraded and banished for reasons good or bad, could earn 
a living in the provinces by opening rhetoric schools. Thus Lucinianus 
did so in Sicily in Trajan's time. Pliny the Younger records that he 
began his first set oration by declaring: "O Fortune, what sport you 
make to amuse yourself ! You make professors into senators, and sena- 
tors into professors.** 

202 A Day in Old Rome 

than as ordinary classrooms. The students are expected to 
sit in a proper manner, " to look steadily at the speaker, not 
let their minds wander or to whisper to their neighbors, 
yawn sleepily, smile, scowl, cross their legs, or let their heads 
drop/' The training in its earlier stages, however, seems 
decidedly academic. Great models in Greek and Latin 
oratory are examined and discussed. Then the young 
advocates-to-be are put to work preparing their own ora- 
tions. They are not, however, allowed to take any live 
and fresh topic. Instead they must seek one in distant 

Every day the streets of Rome resound with noise from the 
rhetoric schools some youth is laboriously inciting the 
Athenian patriots, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, to screw 
up their courage and to free their country by slaying the 
foul Hipparchus. Still more threadbare are the ceaseless 
orations urging Hannibal to advance (or not to advance) on 
Rome after his victory at Cannse. There are a number of 
stock subjects of a more private kind. Mimic prosecutors 
work themselves into a passion against " The Ravisher," 
" The Poisoner," or " The Wicked and Thankless Husband." 

Often a couple of pupils a little more advanced can be pit- 
ted against one another in an imaginary law-suit. Suppose a 
father orders a son to kill the youth's brother, whom the 
father suspects of intending to turn parricide. The boy 
pretends to have obeyed the order, but the second lad really 
escapes. The father at length discovers the facts and prose- 
cutes his first son for " The Crime of Disobedience," 1 
what endless opportunities now for " eloquence " either 
proving that a parent must be obeyed at any cost, or that no 
one can be compelled to commit fratricide I 

1 An actual case for young orators as explained by the Elder Seneca, 
Less advanced pupils could be pitted in arguments as to ** Whether coun- 
try life is better than city life," or "married life better than celibacy/* 

Children and Schooling 203 

Again it is supposed that a young girl has been kidnapped, 
but rescued and her ravisher later arrested. Imagine now 
that the law gives her the choice either the kidnapper must 
marry her and give her the status of an honorable wife or she 
can require that he be put to death. The rhetor will put two 
of his best pupils to prepare counter exhortations to the 
perplexed girl: "Marry the fellow to assure your social 
future ! " or " Let justice be done summon the execu- 
tioner ! " It is all very ingenious, but equally unreal, and it 
is often hopelessly artificial. Angrily wrote Seneca of such 
debates that by them " we are learning not for life but for 

178. Enormous Popularity of Rhetoric Studies. How- 
ever impractical this study, the upper classes at Rome 
assuredly dote upon it. When each youth in turn mounts 
the orator's stand in the school and begins his suasoria (set 
oration) or his contraversoria (pretended legal argument) 
all his fellows are duty bound to cry in Greek, " Euge ! " or 
"Sophos!" at every booming sentiment or well-rounded 
climax. At least once during the oration it is good form 
for them to rise from their seats and join in a salvo of ap- 
plause they will all get like courtesies when their own 
turns come. 

When the young declaimer has finished the master will 
arise. He will show how to gesture, making his garments 
fall in picturesque folds. He will take the subject just 
handled and repeat the argument showing how each point 
can be better developed ; how new matter can be brought 
in; how allusions to the gods, the worthies of old, and 
perhaps to the reigning Emperor will improve the effect; 
how to use one's voice at each particular turn, etc., etc. If 
the only object of oratory is to tickle the ear, the result is 
magnificent. The students dutifully applaud their master 
even more loudly than they do their fellows, and each goes 

204 A Day in Old Rome 

home wondering anxiously, "When can I argue my first 
case before the prsetor? " 

179. Philosophical Studies : Delight in Moralizing. 
A good many Roman nobles of intellectual type advance a step 
further than the rhetoric schools. They study philosophy ; 
and even go to Athens (now a quiet, delightful university 
town) to listen to lectures by the alleged successors of 
Epicurus or of Zeno the Stoic, but to Greece one need not 
follow them. It is proper to say, however, that a certain 
dabbling in philosophy is extremely fashionable. 1 There 
are plenty of stories about noblemen who have treatises on 
philosophy read to them while they are being carried to and 
fro in their litters under the porticoes of their villas ; or even 
of ladies who listen to lectures by a professional philosopher 
every morning while their maids are arranging their hair. 

Such personages, needless to say, never improve upon the 
familiar guesses at the riddle of human existence ; but some- 
times then- desire to moralize becomes worse than comical. 
People still repeat stories of Agrippinus, a high-born victim of 
Nero. When he caught a fever he immediately dicta/ted a 
panygyric on the moral excellencies of fever. He was ordered 
into exile ; he wrote a treatise on the benefits of exile. He 
was made a high judge ; he added to the anguish of those he 
condemned by giving his victims long orations to prove that 
he passed sentence on them only for their own good ! 

180. Children's Games. " Morra " and Dice. It is a 
long cry from child-rearing to philosophy. One must return 

1 The zeal for philosophy and rhetoric, or at least for the patronage 
thereof, is shown by the story of how Trajan, a very simple-minded 
soldier, used to invite the great rhetorician Dion Chrysostom to visit 
him and take long journeys with him. The Emperor, greatly impressed 
by the other's learning, openly declared to him, "I don't in the least 
understand what you keep talking about, but for all that I love you like 
my own soul ! " 

Children and Schooling 205 

to the first topic enough to notice the games played by young 
Romans and also by their elders. Tag-games, blindman's 
buff and its refinements, and like sports, can be seen in every 
street and dusty area in Rome. A favorite game is that of 
"King"; when a group of children elects a Rex who 
commands them to perform all sorts of fooleries. Time fails 
to tell of all the contests with tossing knuckle bones and at 
" odd and even," guessing at concealed pebbles, shells, and 
nuts. The later-day Italian game of " morra " (rrncare 
digitis) in which both players hold out a hand with a certain 
number of fingers extended, and then each one tries to 
shout out the correct number of his rival's fingers before the 
other can do the like by his, is an highly popular if noisy 
method of killing time. At the eating houses and taverns it 
is regularly used among friends to settle who shall pay the 

All too early boys, and likewise girls, learn also to rattle 
the dice box. Some of the dice are ordinary six-sided cubes, 
some are oblong, with the numbers " 2 " and " 5 " omitted 
from the narrow ends. Almost always three dice of bone or 
fine wood are used ; and the familiar expression ct three sixes 
or three aces " is the same as saying " all or nothing/* 

181. Board Games of Skill : " Robbers " (Latrunculi). 
Altogether too much time and money are wasted at dice even 
by fairly grave people, while professional gamblers abound ; 
but the Romans have two games in which men are moved on a 
gaming board according to rules involving very high degrees 
of skill. You can play Duodecim Scripta very much like 
later-day backgammon ; fifteen white men and fifteen black 
men are shifted about on a board marked with twelve double 
lines (whence the name) according to the casts of the dice. 
More abstract and learned is LatruncvJi (" Robbers "), a 
game without dice and seemingly very much like later-day 
checkers or chess. Some of the pieces are called " soldiers " 

206 A Day in Old Rome 

and others " officers " and the moves are very elaborate. 1 
Of course, such games are far removed from a mere youthful 
sport. Consuls and Emperors delight in them, and while 
playing forget everything but the problem involved. Dev- 
otees cite with pride the story of Julius Kanus, one of the 
mad Caligula's victims. He was in prison but was allowed 
to have a friend visit him, and the two were busy over 
" Robbers/ 7 when a centurion came in to say he must be 
immediately executed. Kanus at once arose unmoved, but 
carefully counted the men on the board; then said to his 
friend, " Mind you, don't tell a lie after I'm dead, and say 
that you won " ; then turning to the centurion, " Please bear 
witness for me that I was one man ahead," and so did 
Stoicism find its way even to the gaming table ! 

182. Out-Door Games. Ball Games, Trignon. Among 
out-of-door amusements, we find that young Romans and 
some of their elders enjoy fairly elaborate games of ball. 
There are various exercises which show that the world is on 
its way to handball, tennis, and even to polo, but hardly any 
contests foreshadow such things as baseball, foot ball, or 
cricket. The most common game is trignon, when three 
players stand at the corners of a triangle, and at least three, 
or even six balls, are kept flying around the circle with great 
rapidity ; the points being made on catching and throwing 
with as few misses as possible. The players stand close 
together, and the whole sport is more a mild form of juggling 
than it is any real field exercise. 

i It is impossible to recover the exact details of these two games. We 
know of "solitaire" form of these games, with the board made of tere- 
binth wood, and with crystal pieces, or with gold and silver coins in place 
of the common black and white counters. 



*183. Letters and Writing Tablets. The multiplication 
of schools presupposes the constant use of books, corre- 
spondence, and other forms of writing. 
What are these like ? 

" Tablets " are seen everywhere. 
Upper-class people delight in scribbling 
down memoranda. The story even runs 
that Augustus wrote out his intended 
conversations with his wife Li via " lest 
he should say too much or too little," 
a testimony at once to the need of cir- 
cumspect dealings with the lady and to 
a great mania for writing. Ordinary 
tablets are made of two or three thin 
strips of wood joined together like 
later-day book-covers, and spread over the inside with a 
thin coating of wax. On this wax, often black and dingy, 
day accounts and business messages can be scratched with 
facility. But really important fashionable letters demand 
something better. The leaves can be made of fine citrus wood 
or even of ivory. As for very special correspondence, love 
letters, and the like, these are written on very small tablets in 
contrast to the broad slabs carrying the merchant accounts. 
If you want a handsome note book, you can buy one with a 
number of folding leaves and with outside covers of finely 
chased ivory, silver, or gold, and such handsome note books 
make very convenient presents among friends. By a con- 




A Day in Old Rome 

vention attached to the high office, when Calvus became 
praetor, he presented his intimates with tablets adorned with 
his own portrait in low relief on ivory, and with scenes of 
the praetor's tribunal. If he had been consul, he would 
have been expected to give around bunches of tablets even 
more elegant. 

When a letter is written no envelope is needed. The 
tablets are folded over upon themselves, fastened with 
crossed thread and then at the point when the ends are 

knotted is placed a 
round piece of wax, 
stamped before it can 
cool with a signet ring. 
The name of the person 
to whom the letter is 
going can be written on 
the outside, and then 
the communication is 
ready. Letters can be 
transmitted to distant 
places usually only with 
tedious difficulty, but around Rome delivery from writers of 
any high position is extremely prompt. The carrying of 
letters is one of the commonest duties for otherwise idle 
slaves, and from a mansion like Calvus's it is easy every 
morning to send off ten packets each by its own- hurrying 

184. Personal Correspondence and Secretaries. Calvus, 
like every man of distinction, has a heavy correspondence. 
It is a fine thing to be a good letter writer, to make your 
epistles seem easy, natural, gossipy, and yet in such faultless 
language that they can be collected presently and published 
in a book. To a few special correspondents, especially to 
absent relatives, Calvus writes almost daily in his own hand. 


Books and Libraries 09 

But he dictates even more frequently. He has a couple of 
slave amanuenses who are with him constantly ; they can 
take down his dictation in a kind of abbreviated long 
hand ; then write it out in handsome script, always sub- 
mitting the final text to their master not for his signing but 
for sealing. As a consequence of all this correspondence, the 
demand for new tablets in Rome is prodigious. The wax, 
indeed, can be melted upon letters which one does not care to 
preserve, and the wood used a second time, but the waste in- 
evitably is great. 

185. Books Very Common: Papyrus and the Papyrus 
Trade. Nevertheless, the activity of such secretaries is 
vastly less important than that of another set 
of scribes, the makers of books. Poor is the 
tenement suite that does not contain a few 
musty papyrus scrolls, while a parvenu freed- 
man will inevitably acquire a large library 
(which he may never read) just to show him- 
self a man of fashion. Books are so common 
that their divided sheets are wetted, and used 
in kitchens to keep fish in fresh condition, or, if BOOK CUP- 
dry, to make wrappers for incense and spices. 

Paper is unknown, and parchment although not unknown 
is used mainly for very important correspondence, public 
documents, and the like, which require extremely durable 
material. Practically all books are written on papyrus ar- 
ranged in rolls. 1 The papyrus is strictly an Egyptian 
monopoly, and if the importation of this precious article 
should cease, apparently all Greece and Italy would be 
doomed to partial illiteracy. 

The papyrus plant grows in the swamps by the Nile to a 
height of about ten feet. The pith of its tall stalks is first cut 

1 In very early Roman days public records seem to have been kept 
on books of linen; but these soon disappeared, 


A Day in Old Rome 


into strips ; next the latter are placed one by another upon a 
wetted board and smeared over with a paste. On these there 
is next laid a second layer forming a cross pattern or kind of 
net work. Then the whole combination is pressed and beaten 
down into a solid sheet and smoothed 
with an ivory knife or a shell. After 
that it is ready for export from Egypt 
and to be put to proper use. 

The papyrus trade is well standard- 
ized. There are eight well-recognized 
grades of the commodity. The best is 
hieratica, so called because it is fine and 
firm enough to be used by the Egyptian 
priests for their sacred books. The cheapest is emporetica, 
not fit for writing but only for wrapping parcels. The inter- 
mediate qualities answer for the run of books. When the 
papyrus sheets are ready separately, either they can be pasted 
together at once into a long scroll making a complete volume, 
or first the book can be written off and the sheets pasted later. 

186. Size and Format of Books. 
Books can, therefore, be of all sizes but 
everybody usually agrees with the Greek 
saying, " Big book, big evil! " It is an in- 
describable nuisance to fumble over a roll 
of more than a certain length hunting for a 
desired passage. Not many volumes run 
over 100 pages, 1 and many are much 
smaller. Each sheet constitutes a sepa- 
rate page (varying between six to twelve inches high), with 
the writing usually in a single column, four to six inches 
broad, on each page, and a blank space crossed by a red line 
before the next page begins. 

1 We hear, however, of a single copy of Thucydides that required 578 
pages, making a roll about 100 yards long a most cumbersome volume. 


Books and Libraries 211 

It is impossible to read with any convenience writing on 
more than one side of the papyrus prepared in this manner. 
The result is that discarded books are often used for school- 
boys' exercises or for mere scribbling " paper" ; although, if 
the papyrus is very firm, often the writing can be sponged out 
and a whole new work can be written over the vanished 
sentences. Books being of this character, it is impossible 
really to prepare the " ponderous tomes " of a later day. 
" Volumes " are very short. The Iliad of Homer is ordinarily 
in twenty-four separate rolls, one for each of its " books," 
and the same arrangement obtains for 
other standard works. Very many 
" books " in the Roman libraries, 
therefore, are really little more than 

For writing on parchment, of 
course, one cannot use the stylus. 
Reed pens skilfully cut may suffice, 
with a thick ink made of lampblack 

and gum for ordinary purposes and 

, , . , . , i , PEN AND SCROLL. 

also a red ink, rich and permanent, 

for ornamental lines. In Calvus's library, as in almost every 
other, are two large beautifully wrought ink wells, made of 
bronze with silver chasings, and attached together one for 
the black ink and one for the red. 

187. Mounting and Rolling of Books. The mounting of 
the papyrus long roll is a great art, especially if the book is 
intended for a fine library. First, the whole long strip of 
papyrus is dressed with cedar oil to repel worms thus 
giving the pages a pleasing yellow tinge. Then the last leaf 
is fastened to a thin cylinder of wood or of rolled papyrus 
called the umbilicus. The ends of the roll itself are carefully 
cut and smoothed with pumice stone, and the ends of the 
umbilicus are often gilded. Next a strip of solid parchment 

A Day in Old Rome 

bearing the title of the book in handsome red letters is at- 
tached by a string at one end, where it will hang down when 
the volume is rolled. 

After the book itself is ready a neat cylindrical cover or 
case must be made of parchment, colored red or yellow, and 
also marked with the title. For really fine volumes additional 
elegancies are possible ; for example, a handsome portrait of 
the author can be painted or pasted upon the first page, and 
the edges of the entire scroll can be colored. Handsomely 

illustrated works grace 
every good library. 

To read these books 
will seem to persons 
familiar only with cod- 
exes (flat opening books) 
extremely cumbersome. 1 
You have to take the 

volume in both hands, 
BOOK SCROLL. ir .,, ,, . , , 

unrolling with the right 

while you roll up with the left. It seems nigh impossible 
to " run through " such a volume, and hard to trace down 
a passage ; and there are apparently no indices. However, 
practice can make almost perfect. Calvus can roll and un- 
roll his books with remarkable dexterity and by a kind of 
instinct hit promptly upon almost any allusion. It will be 
a real gain for the world, nevertheless, when the roll is 
supplanted by the many-leaved book. 

188. Copying Books : the Publishing Business. Horace's 
and Martial's Publishers. Books abound, although of 
course all are multiplied by painful human effort. This is 
because slave copyists are relatively cheap. Atticus, Cicero's 

1 The use of flat opening books of the style later so familiar came in 
before the fall of the Roman Empire, but they were apparently used only 
for merchants' ledgers, etc., in the time of Hadrian. 

Books and Libraries 13 

friend, seems to have made a real fortune in the publishing 
business that is, he owned a great corps of skilful slaves 
incessantly busy transcribing manuscripts. The finest copies 
must be made deliberately one by one, but ordinary volumes 
can be multiplied more summarily. As you go about Rome 
you will perhaps come on large rooms where a great number 
of scribes are seated in a kind of lecture hall desperately 
following word for word some reader who, in a smooth, mon- 
otonous voice, is giving out the text either of an established 
classic or the newest essays or epigrams of the successors 
of Pliny the Younger or Martial. In this way what is really 
an " edition " of say a hundred or even two hundred copies 
can be produced in a remarkably short time, without the aid 
of the printing press. 1 

The publisher, and even more the authors who try to live 
by their literary genius, are, however, under a grave handi- 
cap. There is no copyright. What you " publish " today, 
may be flagrantly recopied and sold under your very nose 
tomorrow possibly with errors and interpolations cal- 
culated to drive an author frantic. The average aspirant 
for literary fame unless he has personal means is therefore 
constrained, as were Horace and Martial, to hunt up a rich 
patron who for the joy of being " immortalized " will keep 
him from starving. 

However, every aspiring author tries to find some book- 
seller, who will turn his works over to a corps of competent 
slaves, and then vend the products. There is a regular book- 
sellers' quarter in Rome down by the Forum of Caesar in the 
heart of the commercial district. Here Horace's old pub- 
lishers, the Sosii, had their stalls ; and Martial's publishers, 
the firm headed by the clever freedman Allectus, are still 
there in the business. 

1 This was the probable method of multiplying popular books, but 
we lack very precise knowledge. 

214 A Day in Old Rome 

At Allectus's shop they will tell you how the epigramist 
used to drop in with pardonable vanity to see how from " the 
first or second shelf they would hand down a ' Martial/ well 
smoothed with pumice stone and adorned with purple all 
for five denarii (80 cents)." On the columns by the entrance 
to this and the rival shops are plastered up long lists of new 
publications often with sample extracts to prove their wit 
or learning ; or announcement of new or old copies of standard 
works from Homer down to that clever Greek litterateur 
Plutarch, who has recently died in Boeotia ; or in Latin from 
old Nsevius and Ennius to the recent biographies of the 
Caesars by the imperial secretary Suetonius. 

Considering the labor of copying, the price of books is 
moderate ; a small volume of poems by a popular writer can 
be had for as little as two denarii (32 cents), although such a 
scroll would probably be only equivalent to a thin pamphlet 
of later-day printing, and the works of a really voluminous 
author like Pliny the Elder might appear ruinously expensive. 

189. Passion for Literary " Fame." Expensive or cheap, 
by men of education a certain number of books must be had. 
Perhaps the Age of Hadrian will fail to leave a great mark in 
the history of either Greek or Latin letters, but that will not 
be because literary fame is not passionately sought after. 
Everybody is anxious to dabble in authorship. Everybody 
(in the upper circles) seems incessantly compounding formal 
"epistles/' memoirs, essays, rhetorical and sentimental 
histories, and last but not least great quantities of verses 
which pass as "poetry." Pliny the Younger (not long 
dead) was incessantly urging his correspondents to write : 
" to mould something, hammer out something, that shall be 
known as yours for all time." The same pathetic desire for 
immortality which leads to ostentatious funeral monuments 
and to endowed funeral feasts, perhaps puts a premium upon 
this mania. 

Books and Libraries 215 

The fine gentlemen and ladies who share these tastes boast 
that nothing can interrupt their furious pursuit of " letters." 
Senators like to inform their friends that even while hunting 
boars in the Apennines they keep their writing tablets and 
stylus near them when watching for the beaters to drive the 
game into the nets what precious sentences might escape 
them otherwise ! They like also to have freedman or slave 
" readers " always at their elbows to keep up a flow of poetry 
or philosophy apparently all the time when they are not 
eating, exercising, or conversing. 1 

It is also a kind of etiquette for all members of the gilded 
literary circle to keep sending their unpublished effusions 
around among their friends with demands for " entirely 
frank and severe criticism " ; the response always being a long 
letter of praise even for very mediocre efforts. " Terse, 
lucid, brilliant, stately/' or even " keen, impassioned, grace- 
ful " these are grievously overworked adjectives, although 
perhaps at the end of the answers there are a few polite hints 
suggesting a slight improvement. 

The Latin-speaking provinces are said to follow Roman 
literary celebrities intently. Nothing delights the latter 
more than to learn that their fame has spread to distant 
parts. Tacitus was certainly a great historian, but he was a 
man of his time and also a very warm friend of Pliny the 
Younger. Oft repeated is the story of a conversation he had 
in the circus, where on the front benches for notables he met a 
" certain learned provincial/' The twain, without intro- 
duction, fell into a delightful literary conversation, until the 
stranger who manifestly was very up-to-date asked : " Are 
you from Italy or the provinces?" "Ah," said Tacitus, 

1 Pliny the Younger had a favorite reader Eucolpus. When he fell ill 
his master was sadly tormented: "Who will read my books and take 
such an interest in them? Where can I find another with BO pleasant a 
reading voice?*' 


A Day in Old Rome 

" you know me very well from my books that you've 
read" " Then," cried the other, " you are either Tacitus 
or Pliny I" 

190. Zeal for Poetry: Multiplication of Verses. Prose 
compositions in smooth and fastidious Latin, or in very 
passable Greek are common enough, but even the authors of 
genuinely superior histories or literary essays, often desire 
to become something more magnificent they wish to be 

OLD FORUM : looking towards northern side, with the Curia shown be- 
hind the high columns in foreground ; restoration by Spandoni. 

poets. Very famous Romans have put forth their energies 
over iambics, elegiacs, or hexameters; Sulla, Cicero, Hor- 
tensitis the Orator, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Augustus, Tiberius, 
Seneca, Nerva the list of such celebrities could be made 
much longer. Of course, every loyal subject knows that the 
reigning Hadrian is the author of clever epigrams, which 
would really deserve a certain fame even if their author had 
Eved in the Subura and not upon the Palatine. 1 

1 Hadrian's famous and pathetic poem "To his own soul" was not, 
of course, composed until he lay on his death bed (138 AJ>,) 

Books and Libraries 217 

Probably if there could be physical measuring rods where- 
with to determine it, the sheer quantity of Latin, and also of 
Greek verses, being thrust upon the world every year would 
seem prodigious. At Allectus and Company they will tell 
you that Romanus has just brought out some very acceptable 
" Old Comedies " in the style of Aristophanes, and some 
other " New Comedies " in iambics worthy to be classed 
with Plautus and Terence. The noble Caninius, too, has at 
last completed and published a remarkable Greek epic : " The 
Dacian War " celebrating Trajan's victories in a manner 
quite worthy, let us say, of Homer and Hesiod. True, the 
uncouth names of Dacian barbarians do not fit well into the 
hexameters, and especially that of their king, " Decebalus," 
is metrically almost impossible, but ingenious poetical license 
has overcome the difficulty. Who can doubt that Caninius's 
" long poem " will live across the ages ? l 

Such a practical man of affairs as Calvus does not take all 
the smooth compliments proffered his efforts over-seriously ; 
but even our friendly senator can feel a thrill of pleasure when 
he dashes off a dozen elegiacs in praise of his mountain villa, 
and hears the " Euge! Euge! " (he hopes not too insincere) 
of his guests as he reads them at a dinner party. 

191. Size of Libraries. With such an affectation for 
books and literary fame there are inevitably great libraries. 
Long ago the old Hebrew gloomily recorded, " Of making of 
many books there is no end," and his sighs would have in- 
creased could he have seen the collections in Rome. The 
small size of the volumes indeed makes it hard to compare 
these libraries with those of other ages. The largest library 
in the world is that at Alexandria with some 400,000 rolls, 
but there are public collections in Rome not very much 
smaller. As for private libraries, a certain rich and learned 

1 These men were well-known poets according again to Pliny the 
Younger. The world undoubtedly gained when their verses perished. 

218 A Day in Old Rome 

senator has about 60,000 rolls. 1 Calvus and his friends make 
no such boast, and he contents himself with some 4000 
volumes. This is respectable, but nowise an unusual col- 
lection for a man of refined tastes, and it has plenty of counter- 
parts all over the city. 

192. A Private Library. The library in the house of Cal- 
vus is small but sumptuously furnished. Around a large part 
of the walls extend great tiers of large pigeonholes made of 
finely carved wood, and in each hole is a group of rolls, either 
the complete works of a voluminous author, or a collection of 
smaller books on a single subject. The bright red lettering 
on the dangling labels, the gilt ends of the rolling rods, the 
pleasing soft yellow of the end of the papyri (if these are not 
also colored red) give a luxurious appearance to the collection. 

Set above the tiers of books in such a room is a long array of 
fine busts in bronze and marble of nearly all the distinguished 
literary figures of Greece or Italy. Calvus has just added a 
handsome bronze of the comedian Menander. The careful 
frescos on the exposed walls have to do with learned mytho- 
logical subjects; there is also a fine life-sized statue of 
Minerva the patroness of letters, and on a long shelf stand 
really beautiful silver statuettes of all the Nine Muses. 
Along one side of the library there are also tables where 
Harpocration, Calvus's truly learned and capable freedman 
librarian (Kbrarius), who assists in all his patron's studies, 
can spread out rolls for patching, rewinding, or even for re- 
copying; also a convenient writing couch for the senator 
himself when he wishes to take his tablets and compile those 
fine " extracts " which the literary world delights to cull 
from every possible author, or to try his own hand at original 

l The record for a private collection 62,000 rolls, owned by the 
senator Serenus, dates about 235 A.D., but there is no reason to suppose 
that there were not libraries equally large under Hadrian. 

Books and Libraries 219 

Calvus is not a virtuoso, however, and does not imitate such 
wealthy enthusiasts as the poet Silius Italicus who collected 
all kinds of rare editions, crammed his house with every 
imaginable writer, and " kept Virgil's birthday more carefully 
than he did his own." For all that Harpocration has been 
commended for hanging a small wreath around the bust of 
Sophocles, this day being the reputed anniversary of the 
death of the great tragedian. 

193. The Great Public Libraries of Rome. Into the 
Public Libraries of Rome we cannot enter. They exist 
nevertheless as great and beneficent institutions although 
probably only a favored few are permitted to read their 
treasures except inside their ample halls. 1 The oldest public 
library is that founded by Asinius Pollio (an officer of 
Julius Caesar) and is located on the rather distant Aven- 
tine. Caesar himself projected two very grand Greek and 
Latin Libraries but did not live to create them ; Augustus 
founded a very fine library in the Temple of Apollo on the 
Palatine (making it virtually the imperial palace library), 
and his sister Octavia created another. There is still a 
fourth good library in the Temple of Peace founded by 
Vespasian; but all these are now overshadowed by the 
relatively new " Ulpian Libraries " established by Trajan at 
his new Forum. These enormous collections of Greek and 
Latin rolls make Rome by far the greatest repository of 
literary treasures in the entire world, barring always the 
famous collection in Alexandria. 

1 Concerning the actual arrangement of these public libraries we know 
very little. 




194. Passion for Gain in Rome. Much has been said 
about Roman trade and riches, but this is no place for an 
economic survey of the realm of the Csesars. It is impossible, 
however, to ignore the outward side of that commercial 
activity which is everywhere in evidence around the imperial 

The desire for gold, doubtless, had its potence in old Egypt 
and Babylonia, and most certainly in old Tyre and Carthage, 
but never has the fierce passion burned much keener than 
along the Seven Hills. Go into many a pretentious vesti- 
bule ; in the mosaic pavement are set as mottoes, " Salve 
Lucrum!" ("Hail, Profit!") or " Lucrum Gaudium!" 
(" Profit is pure joy ! "). Hearken also to the cynical poets 
of society, for example, to Juvenal : " No deity among us is 
held in such reverence as Riches; though as yet, O baneful 
Money, thou hast no temple of thine own ! Not yet have we 
reared fanes to Money in like manner we have to Peace and 
Honor, Virtue, Victory, and Concord." And he speaks 
again : " No human passion has mingled more poison bowls, 
none has more often plied the murderer's dagger than the 
violent craving for unbounded wealth." 

His less sedate but not less cynical contemporary, Martial, 
echoes his words. He recommends that an honest friend 
should leave Rome; he cannot succeed for he is neither a 
rake nor a parasite ; he cannot tell lies like an auctioneer, 
wheedle old ladies out of their property, sell " smoke " 


Banks, Shops, and Inns 221 

(" empty rumors," in other words political, gaming, or com- 
mercial tips), nor otherwise earn a corrupt living. Martial 
tells us too of despicable misers who, as their vast fortunes 
increase, let their togas become even more dirty, their 
tunics still worse, their wine mere dregs, and their main diet 
one of half -cooked peas. 

Perhaps such sordid creatures, however, are no worse than 
the others who struggle for riches simply to enjoy gross 
material vanities ; who desire " that their Tuscan estates 
may clink with the fetters of innumerable toiling slaves in 
order that they may own a hundred tables of Moorish marble 
supported pedestals, that gold ornaments may jingle from 
their couches, that they may never drink anything but Fal- 
ernian cooled with snow from large crystal goblets, and that 
a crowd of clients may follow then: litters ; etc., etc." And 
long before Martial, Horace has asserted, " All the arches of 
Janus [the typical Latin deity] from end to end teach one 
lesson to young and old ' Oh, fellow citizens, fellow citizens, 
money is the first thing to seek virtue after money ! ' " 

195. Life in Rome Expensive. Premiums upon Extrava- 
gance and Pretence. With every deduction from such 
charges Rome is undoubtedly an extremely expensive city 
to dwell in, probably the most expensive in the whole Empire, 
and in all but very limited circles the pressure for wealth is 
inconceivable. A typical man-of -affairs is represented as 
boasting to his cronies, " Coranus owes me 100,000 sesterces 
($4,000); Mancinus 200,000; Titius 300,000; Albinus 
600,000 ; Salinus a million ; Soranus another million ; from 
the rent of my insulse I get three million ($120,000) ; from 
the flocks on my pasture lands 600,000." On any night at 
half the triclinia, the mighty equites and senators can be heard 
talking about investments, real estate transactions, govern- 
ment contracts, and foreign trade prospects, far more vigor- 
ously than concerning either the wisdom of the Emperor's 

222 A Day in Old Rome 

policy in building the wall across Britain, or the philoso- 
pher's doctrine of the immortality of the soul. 

The very life of the city puts a premium in fact on getting 
and spending. A youth inheriting a modest fortune in the 
provinces comes to Rome. In a few months his patrimony 
has drifted away on fish-mongers, bakers, luxurious baths, 
ointments, and garlands, not to mention fine clothes, game- 
sters, and dancing girls. In many circles an outlay of 
40,000 sesterces ($1600) is " a mere pinch of poppy seed 
for an ant-hilL" You must at least seem rich or you amount 
to nothing. 

Half the young men of fashion are therefore, good authori- 
ties aver, up to their ears in debt ; but anybody with a little 
ready money can put on a bold countenance to make an 
impression. Many is the apparent aristocrat who is swung 
along in a fine litter, his violet robes trailing, and with a long 
train apparently of clients and slaves following him, who has 
actually hired litter and attendants, nay, the gown which he 
wears from a ready contractor in order perhaps to carry 
his part in some business conference at the Forum. And if 
you are to plead a case as advocate but are unluckily a poor 
man, nevertheless be sure to hire a fine' toga and a couple of 
handsome rings to wear through the morning, or the jurors 
will assume you are a nobody and promptly vote against you. 

196. Rome a City of Investors and Buyers of Luxuries. 
Everybody declaims against this scramble for wealth and yet 
joins in it. Even Martial and Juvenal, it is peevishly averred, 
would have held back their jibes if their financial hopes had 
prospered. Be it said also that this struggle in Rome is 
probably not much more sordid than it can become in other 
capitals in other ages. The standards of business honesty 
are relatively high. Most bargains are faithfully kept. A 
great credit system has been built up itself a witness to 
the fact that most traders are honorable. 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 22S 

The business life of Rome flows in many channels, but in 
general the Eternal City does not compete with Alexandria, 
or even with certain smaller Grseco-Levantine cities, as 
an industrial or distributing center. Rome receives much. 
The great incomes from investments in the provinces and from 
the expenditure in the city of the imperial revenues, make it 
possible to pay for enormous quantities of luxuries for which 
no corresponding articles are exported in return. There are 
many petty industries but they exist mainly for local needs. 
Rome exports legions and law-givers, so her inhabitants 
assert proudly, is it not right, therefore, that she should 
wax fat upon the tributes of the world, when she can repay 
them with the blessed pax Romano, f * 

197. Multiplicity of Shops % . The Great Shopping Districts. 
But if the industrial life of the city is relatively weak, 
never before has there been such a " wilderness of shops " 
as spreads itself along the streets of Rome. A certain type 
of shops can be found everywhere ; hardly a street but has 
grocers' stalls ; the terra cotta plaque with a goat, the sign 
of a milk dealer ; the stone relief of two men tugging a great 
jar slung up on a pole, the sign of a wine shop, and the like. 

There are nevertheless certain great retail quarters to 
visit if you are seeking for articles of vertu and price. The 
fashionable fish-mongers have their odoriferous stalls under 
the great porticoes and basilicas by the fora; the fruit 
sellers are along the ascent from the Old Forum to the top of 
the Velia (a spur of the Palatine flung out toward the Esqui- 
line) ; while the jewelers, goldsmiths, and makers of musical 
instruments as well as the great bankers have their head- 
quarters directly along the Sacred Way itself. The per- 
fumers' shops in turn are well concentrated under the south- 
east brow of the Capitoline. 

1 Of course, by Hadrian's time an increasingly large proportion of the 
privates of the army was being recruited in the provinces. 


A Day in Old Rome 

In addition to these, however, there exist two grand shop- 
ping districts for Rome outside the Fora themselves : for 
the cheap trade, where elbowing plebeians struggle for 
bargains, we find that the little shops are wedged all along the 
swarming Tuscan Street (Vicus Tusciis) going south from the 
Old Forum toward the Circus Maximus and the adjacent cross 
streets ; but for the more select pur- 
chases high-born ladies and gentlemen 
order their litters to take them north- 
ward along "Broadway" (Via Lata), 
where by the Ssepta Julia and the vast 
series of porticoes adjoining or opposite 
are the finest retail shops in the entire 

198. Arrangement of Shops. 
Streets Blocked by Hucksters. 
What the inferior shops were like has 
been already seen in the local survey 
of Mercury Street. They are almost 
countless in number but are very 
small, the bulk of their wares being 
on sale upon the open counters facing 
the street, and often you can make all 
your purchases without going inside. 
The proprietor and his wife with a 
slave or two manage the entire business, unless, indeed, they 
manufacture, let us say, the shoes which they retail; in 
which case a workroom directly in the rear keeps busy a few 
more slaves or free wage-workers. 

The shop fronts are protected at night and on holidays by 
heavy wooden shutters which, when raised, project into the 
street serving as a kind of awnings. They are the more 
necessary to guard against thieves and also against a riot. 
Shop-keepers are proverbially timid folk, and to say " all 


Banks, Shops, and Inns 225 

the shutters are being closed down " is practically to say 
that a brawl or a tumult seems possible. The small size of 
these shops makes their owners encroach upon the streets 
whenever they can. The counters thrust out over the 
scanty sidewalk, while pedestrians trip over the boards with 
placards set in front of the shops advertising the wares 

In such narrow streets a little knot of bargain hunters can 
readily halt all traffic. Every now and then, indeed, the 
City Prefect orders his deputies, " Enforce the shop edicts ! '* 
A few offending hucksters are hailed into court and the rest 
draw back their counters. " Now the city is Rome again 
and not one vast bazaar/' rejoice the poets of the hour. 
Then, after a little, official zeal abates, and the streets are as 
badly cumbered as before. 

A great deal of the trading, however, goes on without any 
permanent shops at all. In almost any cross-street or little 
square one can get a license to locate a table and to set thereon 
a small stock of such articles as copper or iron pots, the 
cheaper grades of women's and men's shoes, or pieces of 
cloth, probably woven b;y -he huckster himself, not to 
mention all kinds of edibles, also the stands of menders of 
old pots, and others of public letter-writers for the illiterate. 
Through the midst of all these, beggars glide whining for 
alms, and children dash about playing hide-and-go-seek. 1 

199. Barber Shops and Auction Sales. An institution 
almost as familiar in Rome as in Athens 2 is the barber shop. 
Not that a shop is really needful. Many a dirty tonsor will 
put down a low stool in the middle of the crowd in the very 
street and ply his shears or razor upon any poor wight who 

1 All these hucksters* stalls as well as the beggars and the playing chil- 
dren are depicted in certain very informing frescos in a house at Pompeii, 
showing life in the forum of that little city. 

* See " A Day in Old Athens," p. 24, 

226 A Day in Old Rome 

can find a guadrans (small copper). The finer barber shops, 
however, are really elegant establishments, fitted to please the 
fastidious. Here men of parts and fashion can meet to hear 
the latest gossip, and perhaps to read a copy of the " Daily 
Gazette" (see p. 282). A complete manicure service is 
afforded ; superfluous hairs are removed with tweezers or 
depilatories, and nails polished and faces massaged very 
skilfully; although some inferior barbers are railed at 
bitterly, and it is charged that their patrons " may count 
the scars on their chins like those on an aged boxer, or those 
marks produced by the nails of enraged wives." 

Another institution much frequented is the auctioneer's 
room. Auction seems at Rome an ideal method for realizing 
quickly upon property, and bidding is often keen. The 
auctioneers are past-masters in stimulating the bidders, and 
in praising-up worthless articles. An auction sale is the 
normal end for the career of a spendthrift when his creditors 
seize his plate and furniture. A dozen times around the city 
one can see placards like the following, tactfully worded to 
save the pride of the unfortunate debtor : x 





200. Superior Retail Stores. However, besides the petty 
shops and street traders there are the really magnificent 
stores, especially toward the Campus Martius where articles 
of verfa attract the wealthy. If you have wealth, you can 
deHght yourself in splendid establishments offering citrus- 

1 This form of advertisement is given in Petronhia. 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 227 

wood tables, veneered with ivory and gold, with other articles 
of furniture to match, or candelabra that are massy works of 
art, or vases and mirrors of every possible style and elegance, 
and where all kinds of fine pottery, plate, and bric-a-brac, as 
well as gorgeous upholsteries, tapestries, and carpets, can be 
had for a price. 

To thrust into these places that welcome only the most 
aristocratic clientele is the delight of those professional 
shoppers, which abound in Rome as in many another city. 
Martial's Mamurra will have many survivors in the next 
generation. This worthy fellow put in his days at the richest 
bazaars along the Ssepta Julia. He would force his way 
to inner rooms where the handsomest and most expensive 
slaves were on private exhibition. He made obsequious 
clerks uncover fine tables " square and round, and next asked 
to see some rich ivory ornaments displayed on the upper 
shelves." He measured a tortoise-shell veneered dinner 
couch five times, then sighed, " It's not long enough for my 
citrus table." He smelled of rare bronzes " to see if they 
were real Corinthian " ; criticized a statue by Polycleitus, 
had ten porcelain cups " set aside *' to be taken by him 
later, examined some splendid antique goblets, made a jeweler 
let him inspect some emeralds in a splendid gold setting, also 
some valuable pearl ear pendants, and complained aloud that 
he was seeking " real sardonyxes." At last, just as the shops 
closed for the day, utterly wearied, " he bought two earthen 
cups for one small coin and bore them home himself." 

201. Numerous Banks and Bankers. All this trade 
implies the handling of great sums of money, and for its 
care banks and bankers are everywhere in evidence. The 
Romans naturally run to finance. It appeals to their keen 
sense of the practical. Even before Caesar's conquest it was 
boasted that rarely a large sum changed hands in Gaul 
without its being entered in an Italian account book ; while in 

A Day in Old Rome 

Nero's day a serious revolt in Britain was said to have been 
precipitated by the act of the millionaire philosopher, Seneca, 
in calling in his British loans, thereby reducing certain tribes 
to beggary. 

Stocks, bonds, and long-time government securities do not 
indeed exist, and there is no regular stock exchange, but in 
many respects about all the other financial conveniences of a 
later age can be found by the Tiber. There are two kinds of 
money handlers mere coin-changers, dealing in foreign 
mintages and often no doubt accepting sums merely for safe 
keeping in their strong boxes ; and above them are the real 
bankers acting under a kind of state license and doing busi- 
ness on the largest scale. 

202. A Great Banker and His Business. The highest 
classes of these argentarii are men whom the Emperor will 
gladly consult if the Parthians break loose in an expensive 
war, or great public works have to be undertaken in Africa. 
They are strictly under government supervision, their business 
honor is high and bankruptcy is a great disgrace. 

On this day in question Calvus must needs visit his own 
personal banker, Sextus Herrenius Probus, head of the firm 
of the Probi, one of the oldest houses on the Via Sacra. 
Probus is an eques, though his wealth surpasses that of most 
senators. His father helped such personages as the philoso- 
pher Seneca to make and to manage their huge fortunes, but 
the real origin of the firm went back to Augustus's settlement 
of Egypt, when the successful liquidation of the royal estates 
of Cleopatra provided enormous and lawful commissions. 
Probus now is practically the custodian of many of the noblest 
patrimonies in Rome. He is all the time consulted concern- 
ing investments, and Calvus has particularly desired to-day to 
ask whether his own freedmen are wise in urging their patron 
(acting, of course, through themselves as middlemen) to put 
300,000 sesterces into a transaction in Arabian frankincense. 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 229 

Probus, of course, runs a regular banking business. Be- 
sides several junior partners he has a great corps of clerks, 
some freedmen, and some slaves. His office has all the signs 
of a well-ordered commercial establishment. Every item 
of his business is entered in an elaborate system of ledgers, 
which are regularly brought into court as the most reliable 
kind of evidence. 

Such a banker issues bills of exchange on correspondents in 
such places as Athens, Alexandria, Antioch, Lugdunum, 
Gades, and even on distant Londinium in Britain. Money is 
deposited with him, then withdrawn by personal checks 
(perscriptio) in a manner very familiar to another age. On 
long-time deposits he pays interest; and, of course, he is 
always loaning money for long or short terms on what seems 
good security. 

On the day that Calvus comes to him Probus has just 
loaned 200,000 sesterces on a mortgage on a well-rented 
insula, at the standard rate of 12 per cent ; and also a sum to 
a merchant planning a trading voyage to Spain at the heavier 
rate of 24 per cent until the ships are safe in harbor. 1 Probus, 
too, exchanges foreign moneys at a fair commission, although 
by the reign of Hadrian the coinage of all the Mediterranean 
world has become decidedly Romanized; one seldom now 
has to change drachmas and shekels into sesterces and aurei 
(gold pieces), although the old Grseco-Oriental coins have 
not quite disappeared. 

203. Trust Business: Savings Banks. Besides its 
strictly banking business Probus's firm also does much that 
could at another time be referred to a " Trust Company." 
It makes sales or purchases for its clients, undertakes to close 

1 12 per cent (one per cent per month) was the lawful and normal rate 
of interest. Greater Interest could be demanded on risky ventures, 
especially those by sea. Rates of 36 and 48 per cent, heard of under the 
Later Republic, were excessive, and usually unlawful. 

230 A Day in Old Rome 

up estates, attends to legal business, collects debts, and above 
all conducts auctions of large quantities of goods in the most 
responsible manner possible. Somewhat on the side the firm 
also maintains several small savings banks to attract the 
sesterces of the humble. 

These modest savings institutions, paying the depositors a 
fair interest, are numerous all over the city ; and such con- 
cerns also make loans for small sums on chattel mortgages 
in short, doing a business that is sometimes highly legitimate, 
sometimes griping and usurious. Probus's savings banks, 
like many others, are intrusted to slave managers (institu- 
tores) who are expected to invest then* own peculiwm in the 
business to insure their watchfulness and honesty. The 
management of such small establishments is naturally held 
in little social esteem, and the heads of Probus and Com- 
pany affect to ignore their savings banks just as much as 
possible, although the gains from them are, perhaps, almost 
as great as from the dealings with the lofty Clarissimi of the 

204. Places of Safe Deposit : The Temple of Vesta. 

At all the banks there are very strong brass-bound treasure 
boxes carefully guarded and protected by elaborate locks. 
These boxes if not actually " safe deposit vaults " can defy 
any ordinary burglars. However, objects of great value, 
caskets of jewels, large sums of bullion, and the like, can be 
deposited in the Temple of Castor at the Old Forum, where 
(under the double sanctions of law and religion) the govern- 
ment undertakes their storage for a moderate fee. There is 
also a second government deposit vault at the Temple of 
Mars Ultor on the Augustan Forum, but this unfortunately 
"lost its helmet" (i.e. its reputation for inviolability) when 
it was successfully entered by burglars some years ago. 

There exists, however, a still safer place than the Temple 
of Castor, although obviously it can only give room to pro- 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 


tect very small packets and highly precious documents. The 
Vestal Virgins in their House of Vesta, sacrosanct and abso- 
lutely guarded, have now in their keeping the wills of half of 
the Senators and of many other distinguished men. There 
they are safe from tampering not merely by common crimi- 
nals, but by designing heirs 
and even by greedy Em- 
perors; but this service, of 
course, is only at the dis- 
posal of the aristocracy. 

205. Inns : Usually Mean 
and Sordid. The very na- 
ture of a city like Rome 
presupposes an enormous 
floating population. The 
metropolis is always full of 
strangers. The more dis- 
tinguished of these almost 
inevitably find hospitality 
at least as " paying guests " 
in some private quarters, so 
that large hotels for the gen- 
try are almost non-existent ; 
and as stated (p. 112) the 
universal custom of either dining at home or being a dinner 
guest of friends largely obviates the need of luxurious restau- 
rants. But all visitors cannot command noble hospitality ; 
and many a plebeian, freedman, or slave cannot go home 
from his work either to the noon-time prandium or to the 
regular evening dinner. Besides there are plenty of loose 
fellows who desire congenial places for tippling and carous- 
ing. The result is that Rome is provided with inns and with 
eating houses ; although nearly all of both types are sordid 
and held in little aristocratic favor. 


A Day in Old Rome 

The inns (tabernce) usually combine the reception of 
travelers with the providing of meals for chance visitors. 
Since driving in the city is seldom permitted, nearly all 
wagons have to unload near the gates, and around these there 

GATEWAY AT POMPEII : present state. Note the small entrance for foot 
passengers, available after the main gate for beasts and wagons has been 

is a perfect sprinkling of inns primarily for the accommodation 
of teamsters. 

A few of these establishments are very large but the most 
are decidedly small. Take for example the " Inn of Hercu- 
les," just outside the Porta Capena, where the Appian Way 
commences. It is kept by one Proxenus, a sly-eyed, strong- 
limbed fellow, who pretends he is an Athenian Greek, but 
who probably comes from somewhere much nearer the 
Orient. His inn stands side by side with a number of com- 
petitors, all much alike. There is a broad entrance through 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 233 

which wagons can drive ; and on either side of this passage 
are rooms, one for the proprietor's personal use, the others 
for serving meals, drinking, and idling. On the walls are 
coarse frescos, showing besides the Lares (the serpent 
Genius of the place, and the god Hercules) views of the wine 
trade, perhaps of a man pouring wine from a large jar into a 
still larger earthen hogshead. In the rear of these rooms 
there is a fairly large court for wagons, a stable, and a water- 
ing trough. Near these are three small chambers for team- 
sters who have to sleep near their beasts ; but most of the 
guests are accommodated in small, dirty cubicles in the story 
above the wine-rooms. 

206. Reckonings and Guests at a Chap Inn. Proxenus 
is not more filthy or extortionate than the majority of his 
kind. He takes it as part of his perquisites to hear his 
tavern cursed as " dirty/' " smoky," " vermin infested " 
or things much worse, and laughs heartily when he finds that 
a departing guest has scratched upon the walls of his sleeping 
chamber such doggerel verses as 

" Landlord, may your lies malign 

Bring destruction on your head I 
You, yourself drink unmixed wine 
Water sell your guests instead !" l 

He can at least claim that his ordinary charges are moder- 
ate. His regular bill to a driver is likely to be : 

"Bread and a pint of wine 1 as; 
Meat dish 2 asses; 

Mule provender 2 asses; 

Night accommodation 2 asses." 

The bronze as is hardly more than 2 cents ; and the whole 
charge, including the mule, is thus about 14 cents later-day 
reckoning. The real profit, however, comes when for example 

1 These verses are from the wall of an inn in Pompeii, and the fore- 
going description is that of an actual Pompeian inn. 

234 A Day in Old Rome 

a burly soldier off duty tramps in with his hob-nailed boots, 
swings back his military cloak, and orders, " Come, mine 
host (copus), some really good wine with a little water ! " 
If congenial spirits, male and female, are now ready, such 
may be the beginning of a long sousing evening, when the 
dice will clatter furiously and the soldier will awake in the 
morning with not one sesterces in his pouch. 

207. Noble Frequenters of Taverns. Sometimes Proxe- 
nus rejoices in still more exalted company. Certain fast 
young nobles enjoy " doing the rounds " of low taverns ; 
and the Inn of Hercules has fairly regular visitors of this very 
profitable type. When Proxenus sees Gnseus Lollius, 
Gratia's black sheep of a cousin, entering, he makes haste to 
anoint his own locks with pungent musk, and runs to greet 
his visitor as * Dominus 7 and * Rex/ while the young 
profligate, boasting that he has come to enjoy a perfect 
" Liberty Hall " (asgua libertus), commands the host at once 
to call in all the loose rascals in the neighborhood and in- 
sists that they drink with him from the same goblet. At 
last they are all sprawling about the tavern, the noble 
Lollius " cheek by jowl with cut-throats, bargees, thieves, 
runaway slaves, hangmen, and coffin makers." l 

All Rome has been laughing in loyal glee at the retort in 
verse which the clever Hadrian has just made to a certain 
Floras, who wrote some lines saying " he would rather not 
be Caesar" because the latter was always gadding off to 
outlandish places. Florus is notoriously a frequenter of all- 
night taverns, and the Emperor instead of imitating Nero 
and sending him a centurion witt a death message, has hit 
back roundly : 

"Florus would I never be, 
Now a-tramp to taverns he, 
Sulking now in cook-shops see, 
Victim of the wicked flea ! ' ' 

1 This scene is a familiar one from Juvenal. 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 


208. Respectable Eating-Houses. But not all people 
are teamsters seeking a lodging, or rascals seeking a carouse. 
Honest hard-working men and women must buy their meals 
every day. The simplest method, if you care nothing for 


appearances, is to halt before one of the cooks who station 
themselves in the open street with caldrons over small 
charcoal fires. At the end of copper sticks they attach little 
cups with which they bring up boiled peas, or some form of 
stew to be eaten on the spot. Of better grade are the 

236 A Day in Old Rome 

caupon(B (eating-houses) ; these are ordinarily arranged with 
a long counter open to the street whereon is arrayed a tempt- 
ing display of dainties, and above this are marble shelves 
set with cups and glasses. We see also a place for heating 
liquids over a charcoal fire. 

On going inside a typical restaurant, one comes to a long 
room filled with small tables and backless stools for the use 
of the guests. The walls are covered with tolerable frescos 
showing scenes of eating and drinking, while from the ceiling 
dangle strings of sausages, hams, and other eatables. Really 
good meals can be ordered here, also good wine at reasonable 
prices. Most of the guests are honest, quiet tradesmen who 
go about their business, and every sign of a brawl is promptly 
repressed. When two youths in servile dress begin to ex- 
change blows over a cast of dice, the strong-armed pro- 
prietor promptly gives them a push toward the door with 
the firm injunction, " Please fight outside." * 

209. Thermopolia " Hot-Drink Establishments." 
Such places are genuine restaurants where more attention 
is given to the food than to the beverages. Hardly any 
eating-house, however, can really be popular unless it does 
business also as a thermopolium, a "hot-drink establish- 
ment." Coffee and tea are unknown; but hard-working 
folk around the city find calda very refreshing especially after 
the toil of the morning. Calda is a kind of diluted wine mixed 
with spices and aromatic herbs, and heated up into a sort of 
negus. It is in constant demand. In fact a cup of calda and 
a little bread and peas make up the average poor laborer's 
luncheon; therefore the samovar (wuthepsa) is continually 
steaming in all the Roman eating-houses. 

Needless to say most inns and even the better restaurants 
enjoy such an evil reputation among the high and mighty 
that the latter never frequent them save, as does Lollius, for 

1 Another scene taken from an actual bas-relief and inscription. 

Banks, Shops, and Inns 237 

the naughty " experience." Even when traveling through 
Italy, so general is the custom of extending hospitality, that 
only rarely will a great man like Calvus have to lodge with 
his retinue at an inn. The result is that country inns are 
hardly more select than those in the city, with sometimes 
the additional reputation of being the holds of unabashed 
robbers. Ladies and gentlemen, and even their more fas- 
tidious slaves, groan when they have to put up at country 
taverns, and what Cicero, Horace, Propertius, and other 
writers have thought of inns and inn-keepers has passed 
into literary history. 





210. Industrial Quarters by the Tiber. We have said 
that Rome was not primarily an industrial or commercial 
city. A million and a half people cannot, however, exist 
without a great deal of local manufacturing and an elabo- 
rate organization for importing staples and luxuries. If 
we go down the Vicus Tuscus or some other streets leading 
near the Tiber and toward the southern part of the city, 
the fine mansions grow fewer, the insulse become more 
squalid, and even these last are interspersed with dingy 
structures of concrete which by the noise and smells proceed- 
ing thence are obviously factories. 

These industrial plants are for the most part small accord- 
ing to the standards of another age ; there is also a marked 
absence of complicated machinery and a conspicuous de- 
pendence simply on patient man-power ; but some establish- 
ments are really on a great scale. The noble House of 
Afer, for example, has a practical monopoly of the brick 
industry. 1 Its products are used all over the city, as may be 
proved by the name stamped on almost every brick, and in 
the Afer yards and kilns are employed several thousands of 
slaves and free workers. 

211. Conditions of Industrial Labor. Slave labor has 
crowded free labor hard but has not actually destroyed it. 
You can never get quite the same efficiency from a " speak- 

1 Marcus Auretfus belonged to this rich family on his mother's side. 


Industry and Commerce 289 

ing tool " as from a man to whom life affords honest prospects. 
Furthermore, the supply of slaves is unsteady. While the 
legions were overrunning helpless kingdoms, it was easy 
enough to buy a hundred more hands for your pottery works 
or metal factory; but now the campaigns of Trajan (the 
last period, it will prove, of the great conquests) are over. 
There are barely enough prisoners in the slave market at 
present to provide a fair supply of servants. 

There are other drawbacks to servile labor : though a slave 
worker cannot " strike " against terms of employment, his 
employer cannot cease to feed and clothe him during slack 
times, when he will gladly lay off free labor. As a result 
the average industry employs slaves and free men side by 
side; the latter are a little more self-sufficient, but seem- 
ingly they do not object to having slaves as fellow workmen. 
In any case the hours of labor are long and the conditions 
hard. A denarius (16 cents) is apparently wages enough to 
provide an artisan with a few rooms in a dingy insula and to 
keep his wife and children from starvation especially if 
they can get the government grain doles; greater reward 
he dares seldom to demand. 

212. Great Trade through Ostia and the Campanian 
Ports. But Rome, as stated, imports more articles than 
she manufactures. The commerce from the interior of Italy, 
down the Tiber and along the main roads from the north, 
the Via Cassia and the Via Flaminia, is not of first impor- 
tance mostly garden produce, stone, and timber. Not so 
that from Ostia, the harbor town, or that coming by the 
famous southern highways, the Via Appia and the Via 
Latina. Navigation along the Italian coast to Ostia has 
its dangerous features, and a great many merchants try to 
unlade at such south-Latin ports as Antium or preferably 
at the busy harbor of Puteoli in Campania. The result is 
that the southern roads are often black with great trains of 

40 A Day in Old Rome 

heavy wagons bumping over the hard pavement all the hun- 
dred and fifty odd miles from Puteoli to Rome. However, 
a very large fraction of the entire commerce of Rome passes 
up the Tiber from Ostia, and is set down on those long ar- 
rays of wharves southwest of the Aventine, known as the 

213. The Emporium and Its Wharves: the Tiber Barges. 
The Emporium is not the most beautiful section of Rome, 
but it is one of the most important. From its murk and 
bustle many a lordly eques is swung away every night in his 
litter for the quiet, aristocratic Quirinal or Esquiline; but 
it is the Emporium trade which makes possible his great 
mansion with its hierarchy of soft-footed slaves. To reach 
the Emporium we go down the Vicus Tuscus past the upper 
end of the tall gray masses of the far-stretching Circus 
Maximus, then turn down narrow lanes where the Aventine 
crowds closely toward the Tiber. Immediately the river 
opens before us with a scene of teeming life. 

We are now below all the regular bridges and at the head 
of deep-sea navigation. In truth the Tiber is too shallow 
and uncertain a river to be very practical for large ships, 
even of the Grseco-Roman type. Only small vessels, mostly 
of the coasting variety, come up to Rome on direct voyages. 
But the regular procedure is to unload the deep-sea craft 
at Ostia and then bring up their lading along the twenty odd 
miles of the crooked river, in light-draft barges. These 
barges some worked by long oars, some towed by their 
crews walking along the shore are constantly coming and 
going. To-day as every day the river is alive with them, and 
many others are moored closely, prow following stern, all 
along the magnificent stone embankments which serve as 

Approaching one of these ungainly flat-bottomed craft, 
we see it has a little cabin on the poop, and its name, the " Isis 

Industry and Commerce 


of Geminus," l is marked in large red letters upon the black 
hull. The captain is now standing by the mooring cable 
passed through a sculptured lion's mouth, directing a great 
gang of porters carrying sacks of grain down a bank to the 
wharf, where Geminus, the owner himself, assisted by a 
government clerk carefully checks off every sack upon 
their bills of lading. A little scrutiny reveals that while all 
kinds of commodities abound on the Emporium two take 


wide precedence over all others grain, from Egypt and pro- 
vincial Africa ; and marble, from Numidia, Greece, and Asia 

214. The Marble and Grain Trades. The marble 
trade, indeed, demands a special section of the wharves. 
For the government buildings the imperial procurators in 
the marble-producing provinces are constantly sending in 
valuable cargoes, and for monolithic columns and extra 
large blocks specially constructed barges are used to bring 
them from Ostia, Even now a great labor gang is painfully 

* The real name of such vessel. 

242 A Day in Old Rome 

disembarking a splendid column of Egyptian porphyry for 
the new Temple of Venus and Rome. 

Behind the Emporium stretches an ugly complex of offices, 
warehouses, porters' barracks, and the like, but most con- 
spicuous and ugly of all are the public horrea. These are 
tall gaunt storehouses for the keeping of grain, enormous 
fabrics of dull gray concrete, " elevators " in fact, carefully 
maintained by the government for the victualing of the 
capital. There are said to be more than three hundred hor- 
rea, and the largest are named for the emperors who built 
them the Horreum of Augustus, of Domitian, and the 
like. Thousands of men are employed around them, and 
the state of their contents can give anxious nights to the 
Imperial Council. Unlovely as they seem, they are vital 
to the life of Rome. 

It is no small task to provide grain for so huge a city, and 
that, too, without the aid of railways or steamships. Even 
a top-lofty Emperor like Domitian can fear the howls of the 
crowds in the circus if the price of wheat becomes high and 
the customary free distributions are not forthcoming. Hence 
these horrea must be large enough to supply a large margin 
against possible delay in the annual arrival of the " Alexan- 
drian " or " African " fleets on which the provisioning of the 
capital depends. 

215. The Public Grain Doles. All the world knows that 
one of the most precious prerogatives of a plebeian in Rome 
is the right to receive about 5 modii (about 10 gallons dry 
measure) of grain every month at government charges. Is 
it not only right that the wearers of the toga should live on the 
bounty of the subject world ? 

In the past there have been, indeed, efforts to make the 
populace pay part of the price of their grain, with the govern- 
ment simply discharging the balance. This half measure 
has broken down because of unpopularity. All that the au- 

Industry and Commerce 


thorities can do now is to see that the list of recipients is 
limited to genuine citizens, and that the alien riffraff of the 
great city is strictly excluded. 


There are now, as since the time of Augustus, about 200,000 
citizens upon the precious " Frumentary Lists." The re- 
cipients are not paupers, but include very many " small 
citizens " of the worthier kind. It is an honor in many circles 
to win the precious tessera (metal or bone ticket) entitling 

244 A Day in Old Rome 

one to stand in line at the numerous grain dispensaries all 
over the city and get the monthly allowance. 1 Every adult 
male Roman in the city receives this privilege, but under 
some circumstances the tessera can be alienated. You hear 
of persons selling theirs or even bequeathing them by 
will ; and some of the holders are thus not merely f reedmen 
but even ex-criminals. 

216. Distribution of the Free Bread': Extraordinary 
Bonuses (Congiaria and Donativa). For a long time this 
food has simply been portioned out unbaked at the numerous 
grain stations all over the city ; after which it has to be made 
into bread at home, or to be handed over to private bakers 
who will return so many loaves per measure, deducting a 
commission in kind. There is a growing tendency, however, 
towards government bakeshops as a new means of pampering 
the " Sovereign People " and towards passing out the food in 
the form of handsomely baked bread. 

The custom nevertheless is not yet universal. 2 The pri- 
vate bakeries continue to flourish, and since each baker 
must grind his own flour, no sound is more common all 
over the city than the rasping of the millstones worked 
either by long-suffering donkeys, blindfolded to keep them 
from eating, or by the most recalcitrant and sodden class of 

These distributions of free grain are part of the normal life 
of Rome. Inevitably they multiply the number of para- 
sites, busybodies, and sheer beggars. Ever since Gaius 
Gracchus started the evil system, thoughtful men have 
groaned over its consequences, but all have been helpless, 
and the demoralization increases when an Emperor, to insure 

1 The expression "Sharer in the Public Grain Doles" appears on 
many tombstones of worthy burghers, to indicate that they enjoyed the 
full rights of citizenship. 

1 It became so under the Later Empire. 

Industry and Commerce 


popularity at the beginning of his reign, or to confirm it 
later, orders a special congiarium to all the citizens. 

This gift can take the form of special distributions of oil, 
wine, and meat to all the lucky holders of the tesserae ; but 
presents even more lavish are possible. When Trajan died 
in 118 A.D. and Hadrian was proclaimed, the latter, not quite 


certain of public favor, put all the insulse to roaring in his 
praise by proclaiming a gift of three aurei (gold pieces of 
$4.00 each) to every " frumentary citizen " in Rome, What 
wonder that later donativa (bonuses) become necessary at 
dangerously frequent intervals to prevent even the most loyal 
plebeians from praying for a new reign 1 1 

1 When Commodus became Emperor in 180 A.D., the congiarium came 
to the ruinous sum of 725 denarii per citizen. This was $96.00 each, 
if the coins were of full weight and fineness, which probably at that 
period they were not. 

246 A Day in Old Rome 

217. The Trade in Sculptures and Portrait Statues. 
But it is time to return to the region about the Emporium. 
Near the marble wharves are naturally the huge establish- 
ments where all the day long the chip, chip of many mallets 
and chisels indicates that great masses of sculptured stone 
are being turned out magnificent capitals, pediment groups, 
bas-reliefs that are splendid works of art, for all the needs of 
the government buildings and the mansions of the wealthy. 

Many large concerns devote themselves to manufacturing 
single statues, life-size or miniature. Standing around in 
their courtyards are rows of sculptured deities, mostly copies 
of good Greek masterpieces, representing the whole host of 
Olympus from Jupiter down to the inferior demigods ; there 
are also numerous statues displaying orators posing in their 
togas, magistrates in then* official robes, and generals in their 
armor, but with the f eatures left in the rough to be fin- 
ished up on order at short notice to adorn some atrium or 
small-town forum. 

A great array of statues of the Emperor are also kept in 
stock. These are needed in every government building, and 
the demand is constant; but it must be admitted that 
Hadrian's handsome bearded features are often outrageously 
distorted by the careless journeymen, so that loyal folk pro- 
test even as does the governor of Pontus, Arrianus, who has 
just written his master, " Your statue at Trapezus [on the 
Euxine] is beautifully placed, but it is not the least like you. 
Please send on another at once from Rome I " 

Special markets and warehouses also exist for almost 
every other major commodity. Near the Circus Maximus 
there is the noisy, fetid cattle market where horses, kine, 
and asses change hands amid coarse chaffering very much as 
in the trade for slaves. There are likewise great repositories 
for oil, flax, lumber, wool, spices, etc. some private, some 
under government supervision ; the clang from all kinds of 

Industry and Commerce 


smithies and metal workshops is incessant, and the factories 
for manufacturing bronze statues are almost as large as those 
for the stone sculptures. 

218. The Tiber Trip to Ostia : the Merchant Shipping. 
If, however, one would learn the real sum of Roman industry 
and commerce, it is needful to charter a slim swiftly-pulling 


Main Roads 

wherry and to glide down the yellow Tiber to Ostia. All the 
way the craft has to dodge the enormous barges, but the 
shores are covered with delightful villas, small villages, or 
with prosperous farms raising poultry, flowers, vegetables, 
and the like for the city trade. In the distance across the 
level campagna can be seen the impressive array of the solemn 
arches of the great aqueducts, reaching back into the hills 
and bringing their supply of pure water to Rome. Ostia 
itself, however, is strictly a harbor town, with an elaborate 

248 A Day in Old Rom- 

series of breakwaters, dredged basins, naval docks, mercantile 
docks, and a perfect jumble of shipping. 

The vessels have come from all parts of the Mediterranean, 
and there is even a battered trader that has coasted all the 
way from Britain with a cargo of tin ore. The smaller craft 
can trust sometimes to their oars in a calm, but all the larger 
must depend on their unwieldy lateen sails which swing from 
two or three long yards crossing as many masts. 

By far the largest merchantmen are the Egyptian corn 
ships, and one of these, that is just being moved to the quay 
by a gang of shouting half-naked stevedores, is of somewhat 
unusual size. We are informed she is fully 180 feet long and 
45 feet in beam. 1 She is provided with elaborate and decid- 
edly comfortable cabins for many passengers, so that it is 
easy to believe the story that when the Jew Paullus (pre- 
viously mentioned) on his compulsory trip to Rome was 
wrecked off Malta, 276 persons were rescued from the Alex- 
andrian merchantman whereon he and his guards had em- 

219. Imperial Naval Vessels. At Ostia, too, can be 
seen a few triremes of the Imperial Navy. Enemies to the 
Roman dominion have practically disappeared from the seas, 
but there is still a certain danger of pirates or local insurrec- 
tion ; therefore, although the clumsy four- and five-bankers of 
the Punic War periods disappeared soon after the battle of 
Actium, small patrol squadrons of swift triremes, pulling 
about 170 oars, or of smaller craft are maintained by the 
government. These ships are extremely like the Athenian 
triremes of the golden age of Greece and call for no special 
description here. 2 The Romans are not naturally a sea- 
faring people. Nearly all the larger merchant ships are 
manned if not owned by Greeks or Levantines ; and it has 

1 Figures given by Lucian for a craft of this type. 

2 See "A Day in Old Athens," pp. 125-134. 

Industry and Commerce 249 

been with real satisfaction that the Emperors have felt that 
they could allow their navy to dwindle down to insignificance. 
With the army, as will be seen, things are very different. 1 

220. The Harbor Town of Ostia. Ostia has all the ac- 
companiments of a busy port: a great mass of squalid 
lodging-houses for sailors, innumerable taverns overrun with 
dirty loiterers of both sexes, a great many uncouth faces 
along the quays, ear-ringed Syrians, and even quaintly jab- 
bering negroes. There are, however, some good houses for 
the rich merchants and directors of the shipping, and a forum 
flanked with handsome temples and government buildings 
befitting the harbor town of the Mistress of the World. 

In the outskirts of Ostia one can quickly get out into de- 
lightful country stretching all along the seashore. The 
villas of city magnates look forth upon the blue Tyrrhenian 
Sea, or are bowered in lush groves surrounded by rich gardens 
and fruitful orchards. The melons raised around Ostia are 
in demand by every epicure in the capital. Who can believe 
a prophecy that this active bustling port, with its enormous 
shipping, and all these villas, groves, and gardens will some 
day vanish like a dream, and that Ostia will lie in a desolate 
fever-stricken country, with hardly a house in sight along 
the deserted shores, and with the harbor town of the Eternal 
City reduced itself to a few miserable cabins ? 

221. The Roman Guilds (Collegia). Ere turning one's 
glance from the economic life of Rome it is needful to regard 
the organization of industry. Nearly all free workmen are 
members of " guilds " (collegia) which nominally exist for the 
purpose of worshiping some patron deity ; thus the bakeries 
are the special votaries of Vesta the hearth goddess, the fullers 

1 There was practically no naval warfare worth mentioning in the whole 
course of Roman history from the battle of Actium (31 B.C.) to 323 A.D., 
when considerable naval fighting took place at the time Constantino 
captured Byzantium from his rival Licinius. 

250 A Day in Old Borne 

of Minerva the protectress of wool-working, the smiths of 
Vulcan, and so with others. 

These " colleges " are not labor unions for the protection of 
the wage-earners against exploitation ; they are more like the 
guilds that are to be developed in the Middle Ages. The chief 
members are the employing " masters," and paid journey- 
men and apprentices have little share in the control of the 
organization. However, most industries hi Rome are on so 
small a scale and the situation is so complicated by the com- 
petition of slave labor that the friction between wage-earners 
and their employers seldom becomes dangerously acute. 

The trade guilds are carefully watched by the government 
lest they become the hotbeds of sedition and disturbing 
intrigue, 1 on the other hand their existence is often useful in 
helping to mobilize industry in behalf of the army and to keep 
up the public works in general. 

They have a fairly tight organization, with their own offi- 
cials, " prsetors " and " presidents," and the like, and the 
election to such a post by one's fellow craftsmen is no slight 
honor. The guilds, too, have their special corporate prop- 
erty; and many of them possess elaborate guild halls for 
their feasts and meetings. 

222. Very Ancient Guilds: the Flute-Blowers. Some 
of the colleges are of decidedly recent origin, but eight of 
them boast that their history goes back to the very early 
days of Home. These are the fullers, cobblers, carpenters, 
goldsmiths, coppersmiths, dyers, potters, and last but not 
least, the flute-blowers, so important at funerals and all 
public festivals. 

From the " good old times " come many quaint stories 
about these guilds, and everybody remembers especially the 
tale concerning the flute-blowers. About 314 B.C. the cen- 

1 As at Ephesus where Demetrius used the guild of the silversmiths to 
start his riot against St. Paul. (Acts, 19 : 25.) 

Industry and Commerce 251 

sors saw fit to forbid these somewhat riotous and irregular 
gentry from joining in the sacred banquets to Jupiter in 
which they had formerly participated. In anger the whole 
college struck and retired in dudgeon to the friendly city of 
Tibur. Soon the Senate found it difficult to conduct the 
religious rites properly without the aid of the flute-players, 
and endeavored to cajole them home, but the strikers had 
found their fare and quarters in Tibur very pleasant and re- 
fused any reasonable terms. The people of Tibur, however, 
wearied of their guests and to get rid of them gave the whole 
corporation a generous banquet, during which all the members 
became so drunk that they could be loaded into wagons, 
trundled back to Rome and then laid down in a helpless stupor 
in the very Forum. The next morning the entire guild awoke, 
rubbed its collective eyes and found a vast crowd of jeering 
friends pressing around. The result was an honorable com- 
promise. The censors relented, and the flute-players, in re- 
turn for giving solemn attention to their religious duties, were 
awarded the right to three days of high carnival, with songs, 
dances, and every kind of coarse gayety. 

223. Importance of the Guilds. The complete list of the 
guilds is very long. Besides those mentioned, among the 
more prominent are the barbers, perfumers, fruit sellers, gar- 
ment cutters, pack carriers, mule drivers, gig drivers, and 
fishermen, not to mention the great guild of the bakers. 
There is as yet no formal compulsion upon a craftsman to 
join a college, but in fact any " non-union " workman is sub- 
ject to discrimination and sabotage which make his life 
unhappy. Cases are known of funerals being halted amid 
an unseemly scuffle when a non-member of the guild of bier- 
carriers has been discovered helping to carry the litter for 
the dead. 

Certain crafts have perforce to be distributed all over 
the city but inevitably fellow guildsmen like to flock to- 

252 A Day in Old Rome 

gether. In the industrial quarters each craft tries to con- 
centrate upon a certain street which is then called by its 
name. Well known is the case of how Catiline's gang had 
its rendezvous at Marcus Lsecas's house on Scythemaker's 
Street. There is no annual " labor day " when all the guild 
members of the city hold festival together. On the contrary 
each college has its own separate festival, when the united 
craft is entitled to parade through Rome with horns, pipes, 
cymbals, and gaudy banners; its officers appearing in 
the guise of magistrates. The whole company with their 
families ordinarily head for the outskirts, where, beside con- 
venient temples and hospitable taverns, the good people can 
spread themselves for picnics under the trees, join in vulgar 
dances, and very often spend the night under improvised 
tents of leaves everybody sleeping the sounder because 
of much strong wine. 

224. Multitude of Beggars. To these honest plebeians 
must be added another less noble multitude. Rome literally 
swarms with beggars. The parasitical habits taught by 
slavery and by the grain doles go far to make begging some- 
what respectable. At every turn you can run on whining 
wretches often repulsively mutilated in order to excite sym- 
pathy. They have their regular stand, however, upon the 
bridges, where they crouch on dirty mats shouting their 
" da! da! " " Give ! Give ! " and at the gates where trav- 
elers take or leave their carriages they are thicker than the 
flies. Near Ostia and along the Emporium may also be 
seen real or pretended sailors escaped from shipwreck, identifi- 
able by their heads, which are shaven because of vows made in 
peril, and who hold out their caps for coppers while "delight- 
ing in garrulous ease to tell the story of their perils/' 

Downright thieves, professional robbers, and petty pil- 
ferers are held in reasonable restraint by the active police, 
but the absence of street lights makes it risky business to 

Industry and Commerce 25S 

go about after dark without torches and a good escort. Seri- 
ous burglaries are often reported, and every now and then the 
body is found of some wayfarer who was stabbed while resist- 
ing a hold-up. As for certain districts going down the river 
toward Ostia, or along the Via Appia toward the Pomptine 
Marshes, their -reputation is so bad that even in daylight 
a company of armed slaves is desirable. 



225. The Fora, the Centers of Roman Life. Hitherto 
in our prolonged " day " in Rome we have carefully avoided 
visiting those famous quarters or buildings which are the 
glory of the imperial city. These can only take on true sig- 

GENERAL VIEW OF OLD FORUM AND CAPITOL : a simplified restoration. 

nificance when we have first seen the ordinary life of rich and 
poor. It is now time, however, to visit the " Heart of Rome " 
the splendid system of fora in that great hollow where 
five of the " Seven Hills " almost come together just north of 
the Palatine, and then to visit the Palatine itself with its 
abodes of official majesty. 

The renowned and original ' ' Forum " is known technically 


The Fora 


256 A Day in Old Rome 

as the Forum Romanum, or the Old Forum, and down to 
Julius Caesar's time it was the only great plaza inside the 
official limits of the city. Under the emperors it is still re- 
vered and famous, but the needs of an enormous metropolis 
have caused first Csesar, then Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, 
and finally Trajan to add other wide public squares sur- 
rounded by buildings far more magnificent than most of those 
around the ancient rallying spot of the men of the Republic. 

All these fora are closely connected together, sometimes by 
no very sharp lines of demarkation. You can start in near 
the Flavian Amphitheater and follow down the Sacred Way 
across the Old Forum, with one soaring edifice, triumphal 
arch, or memorial column succeeding another until at the 
Temple of Trajan you find yourself on " Broadway " (Via 
Lota), upon the great avenue leading through the select 
shopping districts, and then past the Campus Martius, and 
onward to the northern suburbs. " Going to the Forum " 
means visiting any place in this crowded, swarming district, 
where every public and private interest seems to have its 
stronghold, and where the litters of Senators go past so 
frequently that nobody stops to count them. 

226. Incessant Crowds at the Forum. The Centers of 
Gossip. If driving is impossible hi the ordinary Roman 
streets by day, it is doubly impossible in this congested re- 
gion where only those who delight in crowds should endeavor 
to force their way from one building to another. Never- 
theless, with that informality so characteristic of Mediterra- 
nean countries, all the fora are allowed to be overrun with 
idlers. Ragged boys are scampering between the columns 
fronting the most sacred temples, and on the steps of the same 
adult idlers from morn till eve are playing " Robbers " 
on boards scratched upon the stonework, 1 or rattling dice 

1 Such improvised gamin g-boards have been discovered by the ar- 

The Fora 257 

(nominally forbidden) if the police are not too near. The 
foul and the elegant therefore are often hi amazing juxta- 

For the average senator or eques a morning visit to the 
Forum, after he has received his own callers or clients, is 
almost a required act of the day. All his associates are 
doing the same thing ; he can easily meet almost any friend 
without making an appointment, he can read that " Daily 
Journal " presently to be described (see p. 282), hear the latest 
tittle-tattle from the palace and get all the trade reports 
all this even if he has no real business at the Senate House, 
the government bureaus on the Palatine, or the Record Office 
on the slopes of the Capitol. 

If the great men do this, all the lesser fry and above all 
the genteel idlers must do the same. The women frequent 
the fora almost as much as do the men. If there is nothing 
else to busy one, one can always wedge into the crowds listen- 
ing to the distinguished advocates in the Basilicas (Court 
Houses). It is quite a proper thing to imitate Horace who 
put in many days simply wandering around the business 
quarters. " I go on foot (said he) and go alone. I ask the 
price of kitchen-stuff and grain. I often stroll down toward 
the cheating [gambling] Circus and around the Forum; 
then perhaps I stop toward evening at the fortune tellers. 
Presently I go home to my supper of leeks, pulse, and maca- 

Across the fora will parade all personages who wish to put 
men's tongues to wagging. People laugh at a certain pre- 
tentious senator who likes to pass for a great hunter and who 
is incessantly sending his slaves around the plazas at the 
crowded morning hour, bearing nets and spears and driving 
a mule apparently bearing home a wild boar " which we all 
know," whisper the cunning, " he has just bought in the game 
market.* 1 

258 A Day in Old Rome 

Here in the fora also the magistrates with tfyeir lictoral 
fasces pass so often that it is really inconvenient the number 
of times you have to bow your head to them, or, if in a litter, 
to dismount and stand at polite attention : and in such fre- 
quented places the kissing nuisance takes on its greatest bane. 
The merest chance acquaintance, if only he is a citizen, will 
thrust his damp salute upon you, little heeding whether you 
have a vile cold or his own lips be ulcered and his breath foul. 

227. Grandiose Architecture: Vast Quantities of Orna- 
ments and Statues. In viewing these great public squares 
and buildings instantly one is impressed by a single fact 
the grandiose character of the ornaments and the architecture. 
All the enormous public buildings are literally overladen with 
adornments. The architects seemed to have abhorred the 
idea of blank spaces. There are no reposeful vistas. Every- 
thing seems striving to be magnificent and ornate. Statues, 
singly or in groups, occupy all the gables, roofs, niches, inter- 
vals of columns, and even the stairways. The Triumphal 
Arches are surmounted by equestrian figures or by prancing 
four-horse chariots. Reliefs and medallions cover all the 
friezes. If there is any space that cannot be seized for the 
mounting of sculptures or at least for bas-reliefs, it can be 
used for painting designs in stucco or colored mosaics. 
Every detail down to the gutters is highly decorated. 

Very different, therefore, are these fora from the chaste ele- 
gance of the public places in Athens. On the other hand 
much of the effect is splendid as well as startling. The 
utilization of concrete permits the erection of vast soaring 
domes, often covered with gilded tiles. The elaborate Co- 
rinthian pillars before many of the buildings are often simply 
superb polished monoliths of colored marbles. The use of 
the arch (practically unknown in Greece) permits new ef- 
fects often graceful and pleasing. 

The sculptures permitted in such public places are, of 

The Fora 259 

course, always of the highest order. Sometimes they are 
original Greek masterpieces carried as spoils to Italy. Often 
they are excellent copies of those masterpieces but with small 
variations, not inelegant, which give the reproductions a real 
character of their own. At every turn one sees these tri- 
umphs of bronze and marble, Apollos, Minervas, Victories, 
Winged Mercuries, Centaurs, Homeric Heroes, and all the 
legendary host of Grseco-Roman mythology now singly, 
now in groups. Interspersed with these gods mounted on 
pedestals or on the entablatures of the buildings are the 
honorary statues of the worthies of Rome. Hardly a great 
leader is absent from Romulus to the reigning Hadrian. 

A mere walk about the fora with an explanation of their 
portrait statues becomes therefore a detailed lesson in Roman 
history. Besides the images of the truly great and good, 
there are so many others of sheer mediocrities or worse that 
one is left wondering whether the honor of a " statue in the 
Forum " is so important after all. Even in old Cato's day 
the abuse was such that he remarked sarcastically that 
" he would rather that men asked why he had not a statue in 
the Public Square, than whisper questioning why he had 

228. Use of Color on Sculptures and Architecture. 
Needless to say, in Rome as in Athens very many of these 
buildings are brilliantly painted. 1 The great columns of 
colored or of snow-white Carrara or Grsecian marbles are 
usually left in then* natural aspect, but nearly all the back- 
grounds, architectural members, and details are colored in 
brilliant greens, reds, and blues. The nude statues are nearly 
all tinted in flesh color, and the hair darkened, and there is 
perhaps an overplus of gilding. 

Under a bright Italian sky these color combinations make 
the vast succession of enormous buildings stand out with in- 

i See "A Day in Old Athens," p. 216. 

260 A Day in Old Rome 

describable grandeur ; and to this spectacle must be added 
the huge crowds incessantly moving about the fora, great 
masses of soft white togas giving to the wide areas all the 
exuberance of teeming life. There can be many other great 
plazas in the future capitals of the world ; there will never 
be any more clearly marked out as the veritable center of 
an enormous Empire than the succession of fora in Rome. 

We are not concerned with archaeological descriptions. 
The arrangement of the fora in this reign of Hadrian must be 
sketched over lightly or explained completely, otherwise the 
result is not knowledge but confusion ; here a very brief sur- 
vey will suffice. If we are following Publius Calvus's litter 
as it traces the Esquiline on routine business of a senator, 
a series of convenient side streets probably will bring it past 
the great baths of Trajan and then down the slope to the spot 
where the vast bulk of the Flavian Amphitheater rears it- 
self arrogantly. The baths and the Amphitheater both will 
be visited later (see p. 361 and p. 394), and we can, therefore, 
ignore them. Then the litter bearers swing west and slightly 
north and before us lies the veritable Heart of Rome. 

229. Entering the Series of Fora : the Temple of Venus 
and Rome. To avoid being overwhelmed by details only 
the most conspicuous objects and buildings will be men- 
tioned. Some structures are obvious at the very first. To 
the left, lifting vauntingly above the visitors' heads, rise tier 
upon tier the domes, balconies, and pinnacles of the Imperial 
Palace upon the Palatine, sustained at their base by an enor- 
mous mass of arches and buttresses of masonry and concrete. 
The lords of the palace at any moment can look down from 
a gilded balcony upon the Old Forum and its bustling life, and 
they need only descend an inclined plane in order to mingle 
with the mob, or cross the Plaza to visit the Senate House. 
Directly ahead at the end of the vista, rises the Capitol, 
crowned by the rebuilt Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest 

The Fora 


(Jupiter Optimus Maximus), its roof flashing with the gold 
tiles ; its enormous pillars proclaiming it the most splendid 
fane in Rome. 

At the head of the Via Sacra (for this famous route of the 
great Triwmphators now opens before us), upon our right, 



The Fora, the Palatine, the Capitolme etc. 
as in Period of Hadrian: about 135 AJX 

7. Twp. of Tn GMtrfx 

8. Twnp. of Mm ** 

9. Llbr*rU of 

is the new and indescribably splendid Temple of Venus and 
Home, a building just completed by Hadrian. This edn 
fice has been reared by demolishing the last of the ruins of the 
impossibly extravagant " Golden House," the architectural 
monstrosity of Nero. 

262 A Day in Old Rome 

In order to get sufficient room for his new structure Hadrian 
also was compelled to move the colossal statue of Nero 
(99 feet high) located near the site and to set it nearer the 
Flavian Amphitheater. This had been a great* task, exe- 
cuted by the clever architect Decrianus, with the aid of twenty- 
four elephants performed to the delight of all the idling 
crowds in Rome. The statue now towers upon its new ped- 
estal, with Nero's unworthy head sagaciously lifted from its 
shoulders and one of the Sun God substituted. The new 
Temple of Venus and Rome is a truly magnificent object ; 
rising as it does upon a terrace 26 feet high, 500 feet long, and 
300 broad, and surrounded by an enormous portico of 400 
columns each 40 feet high. The versatile Emperor boasts 
that he has been the architect himself, and whatever are 
the real facts no vestibule to the fora could well be more 

230. The Arch of Titus : Continuation of the Sacred Way. 
With the Temple of Venus and Rome to our right and 
the substructures of the Palatine to the left we go straight 
ahead to the Arch of Titus. Everybody recognizes the shape 
of that impressive but relatively simple structure. Its bas- 
reliefs showing the spoils of Jerusalem the " Golden 
Table " and more particularly the ** Seven Branched Candle- 
stick " are destined to be reproduced countless times. 

Old men in Hadrian's day can still recall the Triumphal 
Procession when the son of Vespasian returned in glory ; how 
the great throng of cheering soldiers and citizens swept up 
toward the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, then halted at the 
portal of the Temple while Simon Bar-Giora, the captive 
Jewish leader who had been dragged in the procession, could 
be taken to a high place overlooking the Forum and deliber- 
ately scourged to death. At the news that he had perished 
all the vast company made the crags and columns quake with 
their brutal " acclamation/ * and Titus entered the shrine to 

The Fora 


sacrifice and to bear witness how much mightier was Latin 
Jove than Palestinian Jehovah. 

And now the Via Sacra turns at right angles, or, to be more 
accurate, its thronging ways divide. Go to the left and you 
will come upon a high street passing under the brow of the 
Palatine. It runs a considerable distance toward the Capi- 


tol, receiving several sloping avenues or broad staircases 
leading down from the Palatine. This is "New Street" 
(Nova Via), the most convenient route to certain buildings 
on the southern side of the Forum. 

It is better, however, to follow the denser crowds which are 
swerving somewhat to the right, and then by a second turn 
go straight onward again between magnificent structures, 
with the gilded roofs of the Capitol ever looming ahead more 
clearly. We are now on the Via Sacra proper; and caught 


A Day in Old Rome 

in the eddying throngs of litters, litter bearers, running foot- 
men, following clients, elbowing plebeians with now and then 



a masterful squad of Praetorians in gilded armor, we find it 
perhaps impossible to get more than the names of the struc- 
tures in passing. 

The Fora 265 

231. House and Temple of Vesta : the Regia : the Temple 
of the Divine Julius. The venerable temple near which the 
ways divide is that of Jupiter Stator where Cicero convened 
the anxious Senate when he delivered his great assault on 
Catiline. Next comes to view a long high wall broken only 
by narrow doorways until you see a stately portal at the west- 
ern end, nearest the Old Forum. From above the wall can 
be glimpsed the tiles and marble of an elegant mansion 
inside, also the foliage trees of a really fine garden. This is 
the House of the Vestals, the abode of the six sacrosanct 
virgins who are the most revered personages in all Rome, 
hardly barring the Emperor. 

As we advance there come next to view two buildings 
one a small round temple of antique and simple structure; 
the other a handsome arched building of no great size. The 
first is the Fane of Vesta itself, where burns the eternal 
hearthfire of Rome, guarded by the Vestals, and the most 
sacred structure in the entire city. The second is the Regia, 
the official home of the Pontif ex Maximus, the head of the 
Roman religion, and actually occupied (since that official 
is now the reigning Emperor) by various clerks and adminis- 
trative bureaus relating to the upkeep of the State cultus. 
To the right of these buildings are government warehouses 
and offices ; r and then, closing off the Old Forum proper 
from these structures just named, stands another extraor- 
dinarily magnificent Temple, that of the deified Julius 

232. The Old Forum (Forum Romanum). We are now 
close upon the actual Forum. It can be entered by two meth- 
ods : you can go between the Temple of Vesta and that of 
Caesar, very likely walking through the triumphal arch of 

1 Later than the age of Hadrian this area was occupied by such famous 
structures as the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Basilica of 
Constantine. etc. 

266 A Day in Old Rome 

Augustus, in which case you will see the pillared facade of 
the stately Temple of Castor and Pollux (the divine helpers 
of Rome at the half legendary battle of Lake Regillus), and 
then across that busy shopping street, the Vicus Tuscus, be- 
fore reaching the quieter portico of the great Basilica Julia ; 
or you can take a better way by keeping on past the northern 
side of the Temple of Caesar and coming out pretty directly 

OLD FORUM : looking west towards the Capitol. Restoration by Nispi- 


upon the Forum. In so doing you will have the second great 
court house, the old but capacious Basilica ^Emilia to the 
north on your right. Let tribunals and litigants, however, 
wait before the visitor at last is opening one of the most 
famous areas in the entire world the Forum Romanum. 

Of the Old Forum well may one say what Cicero declared 
of Athens, " On whatever spot we tread we awake a memory." 
There is hardly an event connected with the long reaches of 
Roman history which is not also connected in one manner 
or another with this public square. The first impression, to 

The Fora 


be sure, may be one of disappointment : the whole open plaza 
barely measures 300 by 150 feet. It seems the more confined 
because a large part of the southern side is hemmed in by the 
huge Basilica Julia, while directly above the square rise the 
two hills of the Capitoiine and the Palatine, their summits 

CASTOR : the building on the left, with statues beneath its upper arches, 
is the Basilica Julia. Restoration after Von Falke* 

crowned with lofty and noble buildings looking down upon 
the Forum as a kind of common center. 

As one advances, however, the impression deepens as to 
how earnestly the Romans have tried to concentrate their 
whole life around this beloved square. If statues abound else- 
where in the city, they seem here more numerous than even 
the surging throngs around their pedestals. Every kind of 
human activity is apparently going on simultaneously. 
Along the north side, as we have seen, are the offices of those 

268 A Day in Old Rome 

great bankers who hold the nations in fee from the Eu- 
phrates to Hibernia, yet pedlers are now wandering about, 
almost under the feet of the consul's lictors, hawking hot 
sausages, strings of garlic, and pots of eye salve, while a snake 
charmer has obtained the license to exhibit two stupid ser- 
pents on the actual steps to the Temple of Janus just beyond 
the Basilica oEmilia, 

233. The Forum Area : the Posting of Public Notices. 
Walking out into the area itself, we find it solidly paved with 
rectangular blocks of travertine. The days are gone when 
closely packed throngs of quirites stood for hours upon this 
pavement listening to the orators bidding them vote upon 
peace or war, or for or against some proposed law, as lay in 
their right as free citizens. Gone, too, is the day of that 
great funeral pyre of garments, ornaments, trinkets, tables 
and benches, which the frenzied mob heaped around the 
corpse of Caesar after Marcus Antonius had thundered his 
invective against Cassius and Marcus Brutus. But not gone 
is the Senate House (the Curia), looking out across the plaza 
from the northern side of the square, just beyond the Temple 
of Janus. And around the orator's stands, the Rostra, at 
the western end of the area there is still another elaborate 
funeral in progress; the wearers of the imagines sitting in 
their curule chairs, and the orator pompously lauding " the 
noble departed." 

Truth to tell the Forum is frequented every morning largely 
to get the news. Not merely can you meet the bearers of 
all sorts of public or confidential information ; you can spend 
an hour merely reading the great " white boards " (album*) 
bearing official and private notices which stand around 
everywhere. The " Daily Gazette" is here posted, and 
we shall consider its contents presently; but apart from 
that, whether you wish to know the price of grain or the day 
set for a lawsuit; whether Syphax the Moor will race his 

The Fora 269 

four in the next circus, or Epaphroditus the Athenian will 
lecture to-morrow on the nature of the soul, the Forum plac- 
ards will tell you everything. Gossip incalculable, often of 
a kind which no man dare put in writing, you may also pick 
up, as well as accost half of your acquaintance. A visit to 
the Forum, therefore, is almost as important to a Roman of 
parts and activity as in another age will be the perusal of the 

234. Western End of Forum: the Rostra: the Golden 
Milestone : the Tullianum Prison. At the extreme west- 
ern end of the area, more temples are seen rising on the slopes 
of the lofty Capitol. Here is the Temple of Saturn; and 
higher still the Temple of the deified Vespasian, the Temple 
of Concord, and the great " Public Record Office," the Tabu- 
larium, and the Rostra are reached just before you quit the 
level area and take the winding ascents towards the Capitol. 

These famous stands for the orators constitute an elaborate 
platform, with a fine marble balustrade which is adorned 
with exceptionally good bronze statues of notables such as 
Sulla and Pompeius; although all these ornaments were 
added by Julius Caesar and know not the days of the Old 
Republic. Some of the original " beaks " (rostra) from cap- 
tured warships which gave the famous pulpit its name are 
still in position, however, with others from such battles as 
Actium added. 1 Even if the Republic is dead, the place 
remains of decided utility not merely for funerals, but also 
for formal speeches on state occasions ; and sometimes an 
emperor will still condescend to harangue the loyal quirites 
from its platform. 

Close by the Rostra and near its southern end rises a tall 
stone pillar coated with gilded bronze. This is the " Golden 

1 A difficult archaeological question is connected with the exact site of 
the Rostra before Julius Csesar's time. Probably its original position 
was nearer the other end of the Forum. 


A Day in Old Rome 

Milestone " whereon Augustus inscribed the names of the 
great roads leading out of Rome, and the distances to the 
chief towns along their course. " All roads lead to Rome" 
and leading to Rome find their convergence in the " Golden 
Milestone." It comes close, therefore, to being the " Hub " 
of the entire Roman Empire. 

OLD FORUM: present condition, western end looking east, 
ground pillars of Temple of Saturn. 

In fore- 

Near the other, the northern end of the Rostra, when one 
goes a little of the way up to the Capitol, there is quite a dif- 
ferent landmark, far more venerable the old prison of the 
city, the Tullianum, prepared, according to the story, by 
King Ancus Martius. It was originally nothing but a kind 
of well let into the damp rock, with an upper and a lower 
compartment; this second chamber is only accessible by 
means of a hole in its vaulted roof through which prisoners 
were lowered by a rope. 

The Fora 271 

The Tullianum has long since been discarded as the public 
jail, but state prisoners are sometimes confined or executed 
there. Familiar is the story of how Jugurtha, the luckless 
Numidian, was starved to death in the lower dungeon ; and 
how Lentulus and the other Castilinian conspirators were 
strangled in the upper. Since then, if one accepts the story 
told by those very despised creatures, the Christians, their 
great leader, Peter, one of the associates of Christus, was kept 
there in chains before he was taken out to be executed by 
Nero's orders. It is assuredly a gloomy and fearsome 
enough place to strike terror even into such " Haters of all 
Mankind," as official documents assure us these Christians 
must be. 

235. The Basilica JEmilia: the Temple of Janus: the 
Senate House (Curia). But to return to the great buildings 
lining the Forum. The Basilica ^Emilia on the north side 
was erected as early as 179 B.C., and, though often repaired, it 
is a substantial monument of the great days of the Republic. 
It is so like the greater Basilica Julia, however, that one de- 
scription will do later for both. Directly by this court house 
stands the venerated Temple of Janus, a structure with 
many arches and sacred to the most characteristic if not the 
greatest of all the gods of Rome. 1 The gates of' the shrine, 
one notices, are standing carefully open, as a token that some 
petty frontier wars are still raging. When absolute peace 
prevails these doors, however, will be carefully shut. The 
Romans are thrifty and practical people. Why waste good 
sacrificial victims and incense on the god when his help 
against the foe is not needed? It would be like paying a 
doctor when one is feeling entirely well. 

Leading away from the Forum and this Temple is a series 
of vaulted passages also called janus, which form a large 

1 Janus was about the only Latin deity for whom there could not be 
assigned a Greek counterpart. 

272 A Day in Old Rome 

part of the banking district. Here, because the Sacred 
Way is too limited, many great financiers have their offices ; 
here countless clerks are busy with their account books; 
here great loans are negotiated or investments are placed 
hourly. It is almost a regular exchange and the scene of 
many speculations. Regularly one hears of fortunes made 
or lost " between the janus," i.e. by the workings of high 

Beside the Temple of Janus rises the magnificent porch of 
the Curia (Senate House). The Conscript Fathers are not 
yet in session, and a visit to the interior can wait. The 
structure is very splendid, but it is not the grand old Curia 
Hostilia, built according to legend by King Tullus Hostilius, 
and the scene of nearly all those famous Senatorial debates 
across the long annals of the Republic. That ancient build- 
ing was burned in 52 B.C. during the riots following the murder 
of the idol of the populace, the demagogue Clodius. Julius 
Caesar, therefore, had a good excuse for building a stately 
new Senate House. This in turn was damaged in Nero's 
great fire, but Domitian carefully repaired it and with its 
fine pillars, bronze doors, and galaxy of statues, it forms 
a worthy meeting place for what is still a venerable and 
powerful body. 

236. The Basilica Julia, the Greatest Court House in 
Rome ; the Lacus Curtius. The Basilica Julia on the south- 
ern side of the Forum is a building into which it is best to 
enter. The structure was begun by Julius Caesar to meet the 
imperative need for a larger court house. More important 
business is transacted under its roof and ample porticoes, 
perhaps, than in any other building in Rome; and in bad 
weather nearly all the Forum loungers take refuge beneath 
its ample shelter. Its size is worthy of its important func- 
tions ; it is 270 feet long and in addition to the regular exterior 
colonnade has a fine inner colonnade. 

The Fora 


These double porticoes are the special lounging spots of 
fashionable idlers of both sexes. Young men of fashion 
seeking to meet congenial ladies of easy habits have only to 
loiter around and stroll about a little their hopes are 
gratified. Assuredly Venus can hardly reckon up the love 
affairs that here have ripened. The pavements are even more 
marked up for gaming boards than elsewhere and some of the 
players, we note, actually wear the equestrian stripes, while 


there are senatorial latidaves in the interested throngs stand- 
ing around them. Along the sides of the building are roomy 
offices, where a large corps of city officials and clerks conduct 
the various municipal boards and bureaus. 

The glory of the Basilica Julia, however, is its great hall, 
used for the chief courts of justice, barring always those of 
the Emperor and the Senate. The hall is paved with colored 
marbles of price; the pillars running down either side are 
splendid monoliths of still rarer marbles, and the ceiling is 
heavy with gilt fretting and painting. In every possible 

274 A Day in Old Rome 

niche rise statues of famous jurisconsults and advocates. 
The light streams down abundantly through the windows in 
the upper clerestory, and in this second story at the present 
moment there are standing or sitting groups of very respect- 
able men and women listening to the orator pleading before 
one of the tribunals below. Any guide will tell how the 
mad Emperor Caligula used to delight to stand in these 
upper balconies, fling down money, and roar with delight 
when the crowds trampled one another struggling to get the 

So large is this hall that not one but four tribunals have 
been set up in different quarters of the building, and litiga- 
tion often proceeds before all four of them simultaneously, 
although in the absence of partitions strong-lunged advo- 
cates sometimes interfere with their neighbors; they tell 
of a certain stentorian Trachalus who once while speak- 
ing before one tribunal not merely was heard by but drew 
applause from the audiences in the other three. Here 
Quintilian, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and other orators 
of the generation just departed, won their fame, and at 
present every windy amateur in the rhetoric schools dreams 
of the day when he can wave out his toga in the Basilica 
Julia before a crowded and cheering balcony. 

These are some of the more famous monuments in and 
around the Forum Romanum. Were one to descend to 
particulars the task were endless. Perhaps there should be 
mentioned a certain modest altar in the very center of the 
open plaza. This marks the so-called Locus Curtius. Anti- 
quarians give one several stories concerning it, but the ac- 
cepted version is this. Once in the good old days a yawn- 
ing gulf opened at this very spot, the portent, perhaps, of the 
devouring of the entire city when lo I the brave youth, 
Marcus Curtius " devoted " himself for his country and 
plunged unflinchingly into the abyss. The earth closed over 

The Fora 


him, he was seen no more, but Rome held his name in eternal 
remembrance. Doubtless he had thus taken upon himself 
the anger of the infernal gods and had saved the state ! 1 

237. The New Fora of the Emperors: the Temple of 
Peace. After surveying the Forum Romanum we are 

THE TARPEIAN RQCK : on slopes of the Capitol. (From this traitors were 
hurled in the time of the Republic.) 

told that five other fora the creations of high-minded 
Emperors still await inspection. Truth to tell, however, 
these great plazas not marking the growth and events of 
centuries, but the mandates of wealthy despots give one a 

1 Later visitors to the Forum would, of course, be impressed with the 
fine, if ornate, Arch of Septimius Sffoerus, erected about 211 A.D. at the 
northwest corner of the plaza. 

276 A Day in Old Rome 

sense of anticlimax. Of them it will be properly written : 
" The fora of the Empire were as much superior in mag- 
nificence to the Forum Romanum as they were inferior in 
historical interest and association." 

They are the work of master architects mobilizing armies 
of laboring slaves, stone cutters, and artists. The eye be- 
comes weary with the incessant sheen of costly marble ; the 
tfquestrian statues, the forests of ornate Corinthian pillars, 
the great reaches of tessellated pavements, the quantities of 
colored paint, enamel, and heavy gilding. At first these 
imperial fora appear to the visitor as a hopeless complex 
of pretentious splendor ; but after a little, a clever method 
appears in their arrangement by which one great plaza or 
system of public buildings joins itself to another. 

Four of these public squares join closely together, but the 
fifth stands a little apart. This last is located near the north- 
east end of the Old Forum, verging toward the Subura and 
the Esquiline, and is the " Forum of Peace," constructed by 
Vespasian about 75 A..D. The open area, however, is rela- 
tively small, for its center is occupied by the imposing 
"Temple of Peace/' This temple is adorned with a perfect 
gallery of sculptures and paintings, nearly all of them mas- 
terpieces by the Greeks. These works of art had formerly 
occupied Nero's Golden House until that grandiose struc- 
ture was destroyed by the thrifty Vespasian. In this Tenv 
pie of Peace likewise are kept those precious Jewish spoils 
shown on the Arch of Titus, and there is not merely a fine 
library but a hall for the savants and scientists when they 
meet for their learned conventicles. 

238. The Fora of Julius, Augustus, and Kerva. In 
dealing with the four connected fora it profits little to mul- 
tiply detailed descriptions; one glittering marble edifice 
succeeds another around each square. Nearest to the Old 
Forum lies the Forum Julium, Julius Caesar paid out 

The Fora 


100,000,000 sesterces ($4,000,000) merely for the land which 
it occupies, and its buildings are worthy of the costly soil 
whereon they stand. In its center rises the great Temple of 
Venus Genetrix, " mother " of the Julian line. Here at 
times the Senate can convene, while the shops under the 
porticoes around are among the finest in Rome. 

Directly north of this Forum Julium is the Forum Augus- 
tum. When young Octavius went forth to avenge his 


adopted father against Brutus and Cassius he vowed a temple 
to Mars Ultor (" Mars the Avenger "). Later as the Em- 
peror Augustus, most splendidly he fulfilled this vow. The 
porticoes around the plaza are of Numidian marble, and 
variegated marbles compose the pavements ; the open area is 
covered with bronze quadrigae (four-horse chariots), triumphal 
arches, and, of course, numerous statues, some of precious 
metals, while the Temple of Mars Ultor itself matches all 
its rivals in magnificence. 

To the southeast of the Forum of Augustus and joining it 

278 A Day in Old Rome 

to the Forum of Peace is the smaller Forum of Nerva. This 
plaza was really begun by Domitian, but when that tyrant 
perished ere completing the task, it was finished and named 
by the eirenic Nerva. It is really a kind of broad thorough- 
fare leading down from the Subura district, although upon 
it fronts a fine Temple of Minerva. One of the features of 
this square is a stately avenue of statues of the deified Em- 

239. The Forum, Column, and Libraries of Trajan. By 
far the finest of the imperial fora, however, is that of Tra- 
jan and all the buildings, when we visit them, are still 
relatively new. It opens to the northwest of the Forum of 
Augustus, and is not really a single square but a genuine 
series of squares. 

To get the level space for their great areas, it was needful 
to cut away a whole spur of the Quirinal, excavating to a 
depth equal to the height of Trajan's Column (128 feet). 
On entering this precinct, if one has been marveling before, 
ft is right to be astounded now. First there comes the 
Forum Trajani proper, a square of most imposing size, with 
lofty porticoes, semi-circular at the ends ; and in the center 
stands a remarkable equestrian statue of the imperial founder 
himself. Then there is the vast Basilica Ulpia, the third 
great court house of the city, which spreads lengthwise across 
the northwestern boundary of this forum. It is 300 feet 
long, 185 feet broad, and five lines of pillars divide it into 
four separate halls for different kinds of business ; in fact 
it is really a finer building than the older Basilica Julia. 

Going through this enormous but very open structure, we 
come to a second smaller plaza, and here rises one of the no- 
blest sights of Rome a monument that will draw the ad- 
miration of all ensuing ages the Column of Trajan itself. 
The bas-reliefs telling in picturesque detail the whole story 
of the Dacian Wars, the 2500 human figures executed with 

The Fora 


Von Falke. 

280 A Day in Old Rome 

infinite fidelity and care, wind spirally from the top of the 
18 foot pedestal clear to the summit. This last is crowned 
by a colossal bronze-gilt statue of Trajan looking down upon 
the sculptured record of his military glory. 

This column is, perhaps, the worthiest monument of the 
whole imperial age, 1 The marvels of Trajan's forum-system, 
however, are not exhausted. North and south of the Col- 
umn are two fine buildings of moderate size ; these are the 
Bibliothecce, the two public " Libraries of Trajan/' one Latin, 
one Greek containing on the whole the finest collections 
of books in Rome ; and directly facing the Column and the 
Libraries across another open area of considerable extent 
is the Temple of Trajan, where the priests daily offer their 
sacrifice to the deified manes of the terror of Dacia and of 

240. The Park System of the Campus Martius: the 
pantheon. These exhaust for the moment the structures 
we can survey around the fora: and it were well to stop 
lest sheer confusion may follow. With time, however, we 
could wander after the throngs again northwestward along 
" Broadway " past the great porticoes and fine shops of the 
Ssepta Julia, and saunter about the great park system of 
Campus Martius. 

The public baths there located and such structures as the 
Theater of Pompey and the Flaminian Circus can, perhaps, 
be explained later; but a word must be spoken for the one 
great temple which is here situated away from the center of 
Rome. The Pantheon, dedicated to Mars, Venus, the deified 
Caesar, and to all the other deities of the Julian line was the 
erection of Marcus Agrippa, the mighty coadjutor of Augus- 
tus. It has just been rebuilt from its very foundations by 

1 The column of Marcus Aurelius, erected about 180 A.D. in much the 
same style as that of Trajan, although a magnificent monument, is not 
equal in execution to the older column, 

INTERIOR OF THE PANTHEON : restoration according to Von Falke. 

282 A Day in Old Rome 

Hadrian. 1 Its noble dome shines with the golden tiles. The 
soaring rotunda inside is encircled with stately altars to the 
gods the building honors. Already one can stand and look 
upward 143 feet to that patch of blue 18 feet in diameter 
through which sun and stars will shine down across at least 
eighteen centuries of changing history making the Pan- 
theon the one great building, not a ruin, which shall link the 
Rome of the Csesars with the Rome of another day. 

241. The Daily Gazette (Acta Diurna). How Rome 
Gets Its News. One thing, to avoid complexity, we omitted 
while crossing the old Forum Romanum. It behooves us to 
return and to explain it. Before a series of tall white boards 
Bet up against certain pillars is gathered an elbowing, gesticu- 
lating throng. Many of the company have tablets and seem 
copying vigorously. The crowd is always receiving additions, 
while others are departing. The white boards (" albums ") 
when we get near enough are seen to be covered with some- 
what fine writing. There is a special rush and flutter in the 
crowd when a petty official sets up still another white board, 
and a hundred styli instantly become busy. It is easy to 
learn the excitement caused by -these notices : they con- 
stitute the publication of the new Acta Diurna. 

Even without the Acta Diurna (" Daily Doings ") a city 
like Rome would have its supply of news. There are profes- 
sional gad-abouts who make themselves desirable guests at 
dinner-parties merely because they are " very well informed." 
They have picked up all the stories about the Parthian king, 
the new chiefs of the Germans, the number of legionaries 
mobilized on the Rhine, and the corn prospects in Africa and 
Egypt, as well as every kind of commercial information. 

1 He magnanimously allowed Agrippa's name still to appear as the 
builder of the temple. The Pantheon apparently owed its preservation 
through the Middle Ages to the fact that it was early consecrated as a 
Christian church, and hence was exempt from profanation. 

The Fora 283 

Other wiseacres of a less reliable cast are known as " svbros- 
trani," " Rostra-haunters," for at the Rostra all gos- 
sipers have their tryst. These people specialize in rumors of 
calamity, reports of great military disasters, of the sudden 
death of magistrates, etc., and take a peculiar glee in cir- 
culating vile stories about the Emperors the danger of 
repeating such rumors only adding spice to their game. 
Usually, however, they are too insignificant fry for the gov- 
ernment to consider worth prosecuting. 

242. Contents of the Acta Diuraa. The Acta Diurna, 
however, is issued by a government bureau, and a certain 
degree of official responsibility is attached to the more formal 
statements. The editors, nevertheless, are allowed to add 
racy anecdotes of a personal nature, especially concerning the 
higher aristocracy. The relations between the senatorial 
nobility and the freedmen and equites in the imperial govern- 
ment bureaus are none the best ; and Hadrian himself is not 
on perfect terms with the Conscript Fathers. 1 

Official circles, therefore, are never careful to suppress 
spicy bits about the aristocrats. The public record offices 
and dispatches from the provinces supply most of the items, 
but some of the material can only have come from direct re- 
portorial activity. In any case the interest in this Daily 
Gazette is enormous. Its single copy will be multiplied 
many times, copies being made of the copies, and the same 
sent to wealthy people in all parts of the Empire. A month 
from now groups will probably be gathering in Spanish 
Corduba and Syrian Antioch to read the items published 
to-day in Rome. 

Owing to the limitations of space, despite the use of many 
"white boards," the Acta Diurna has to maintain a very 

1 At the end of his reign the Senate so disliked him that (although he 
had been in the main an excellent ruler) his successor Antoninus had 
much trouble in getting him voted a "dtww," aa were all good Emperon 

284 A Day in Old Rome 

dry journalistic style indeed. The lively Italian imagina- 
tion, however, can provide most of the details, even if they 
are not at once eked out by quantities of that " smoke," oral 
rumor, which is passed about amid the copyists the moment 
the new gazette is posted. This is a very commonplace is- 
sue, and the albums read something like this : l 

" Records for the tenth day of June. Yesterday boys 

and girls were born in the city of Rome. bushels of 

grain were landed at the Emporium. head of cattle [and 

other commodities specified] were also brought into the city. 
On this same day the palace slave Mithridates was ordered 
crucified for blaspheming the guardian genius of his master 

the Emperor. At the imperial treasury million sesterces, 

which it proved impossible to loan out at interest, were or- 
dered returned to the public funds, A fire broke out in the 
insula of Nasta in the Viminal district but was extinguished." 

243. Miscellaneous Entries and Gossip in the Gazette. 
The entries go on to give the doings in the petty police 
courts, the copies of important wills with especial mention 
of any bequests that were left the Emperor, the statement 
that a certain eques had caught his wife in gross misconduct 
and divorced her ; that a procurator for a large trading house 
was being prosecuted for embezzlement, and a summary of 
the evidence in a great violation of contract case between two 
marble importers now on trial in the Basilica ^Emilia. Then 
follow magisterial edicts, lists of judicial appointments, and 
careful entries about all the doings of the Emperor and of 
his progress back toward Rome. Next is given a rather 
elaborate summary (evidently made by shorthand reporters) 
of the latest debate in the Senate, with careful entry of the 
applause and interruptions which the orators received. 

1 We have no copy of the Acta Drama. We possess, however, what 
seems a pretty literal parody of its style and contents in Petronius, and 
can reconstruct part of an issue with some confidence. 

The Fora 285 

All this is more or less "official"; but the newsmongers 
are really more interested in " human interest stories " 
added by the publishers' private authority. Thus it makes 
good reading to tell how a frantic admirer of a certain " Red " 
charioteer who was killed in the last races, cast himself on 
the funeral pyre of the beloved jockey, in order not to sur- 
vive his idol; or to relate how a citizen of Fsesule has 
just visited Rome and sacrificed to Jupiter along with 
" eight children, thirty-six grandchildren, and nineteen great 
grandchildren." 1 Furthermore, the report of love affairs 
among the noble and mighty is never omitted how a sena- 
tor's wife has eloped with a gladiator, and how a certain oft- 
mentioned lady is about to wed an eighth husband. Finally 
(perhaps the most copied of all) there are, of course, the 
announcements for the coming exhibitions in the theater, 
amphitheater, and circus, with lists of the actors, gladiators, 
and charioteers, and other data, which can enable all Rome to 
arrange its wagers and its holidays. 

The Acta Diurna therefore goes about as far as is possible 
to create a real newspaper in the days of mere penmanship. 
Its vogue is immense. Many a fine lady sends her slave or 
freedman to the Forum every day to bring home a special 
copy. Its items will focus the conversation at a thousand 
dinner tables. 

Finally this publication will enjoy a certain degree of his- 
toric importance. Afte/ each issue has served its daily pur- 
pose, fair copies are 'deposited in the Public Record Office, 
and here they can be consulted many years later by the 
learned. It is from the files of the Acta Diurna that Tacitus 
and Suetonius have apparently drawn a great many of 
their anecdotes about the days of the early Emperors. 

1 Both of these are actual cases from the reign of Augustus. 





244. History of the Palatine : its Purchase by Augustus. 
There is one other great quarter of Rome, from the politi- 
cal standpoint the most important of all, the Palatine. 

The Palatine originally was a hill of modest height, in 
shape fairly rectangular, some 1400 feet on the side. Here 
according to firm tradition was that first settlement by the 
Alban shepherds led out by Romulus. "the hill seems to 
have been encompassed by its own crude wall, and presently 
it figured as the earliest " Rome," often called from its 
squarish configuration Roma Quadrata. Time fails to count 
the various memorials such as the " House of Romulus," 
alleged to have survived since this primitive time. Note 
should be made, however, of certain small but very old tem- 
ples such as those of Victoria, Viriplaca, and Orbona, 1 
which are now carefully preserved amid surroundings of 
artificial magnificence. 

After the growth of the Republic the Palatine became one 
of the most fashionable residence sections of the city. Public 
leaders liked to mount the roofs of their mansions and see 
the whole Forum with the familiar Senate House spread 
out at their feet. Here were erected the earliest of those 
sumptuous mansions wherein the aristocracy invested their 
spoils from the great conquests. Marcus Scaurus had his 
pretentious dwelling on the Palatine, and so did Catiline, 

'Old Latin goddeww. 


The Government Offices 


and Marcus Antonlus, and Cicero. Last but not least, 
Hortensius the Orator, Cicero's professional rival, erected 
an extremely fine dwelling here shortly before his death in 
50 B.C., which mansion was later purchased by Augustus 
when he had assumed the government and desired a suitable 


ARCH OF TITUS : part of Palatine visible to the left. 

residence ; and thus it was that the Palatine became the 
" Palace " of the Emperors. 

245. Extension of the Imperial Buildings : Central Posi- 
tion of the Palatine. Augustus, posing merely as the " First 
Citizen " among his fellow Quirites, and with a studious 
abhorrence of the outward forms of monarchy, had avoided 
establishing anything like an Imperial court ; but he was, of 
course, entitled to a large senatorial mansion. In addition 
to his private residence elaborate offices had also to be pro- 
vided for the great corps of secretaries and clerks through 





244. History of the Palatine : its Purchase by Augustus. 
There is one other great quarter of Rome, from the politi- 
cal standpoint the most important of all, the Palatine. 

The Palatine originally was a hill of modest height, in 
shape fairly rectangular, some 1400 feet on the side. Here 
according to firm tradition was that first settlement by the 
Alban shepherds led out by Romulus. The hill seems to 
have been encompassed by its own crude wall, and presently 
it figured as the earliest " Rome," often called from its 
squarish configuration Roma Quadrata. Time fails to count 
the various memorials such as the u House of Romulus/' 
alleged to have survived since this primitive time. Note 
should be made, however, of certain small but very old tem- 
ples such as those of Victoria, Viriplaca, and Orbona, 1 
which are now carefully preserved amid surroundings of 
artificial magnificence. 

After the growth of the Republic the Palatine became one 
of the most fashionable residence sections of the city. Public 
leaders liked to mount the roofs of their mansions and see 
the whole Forum with the familiar Senate House spread 
out at their feet. Here were erected the earliest of those 
sumptuous mansions wherein the aristocracy invested their 
spoils from the great conquests. Marcus Scaurus had his 
pretentious dwelling on the Palatine, and so did Catiline, 

* Old Latin goddeMw. 


The Government Offices 


and Marcus Antonius, and Cicero. Last but not least, 
Hortensius the Orator, Cicero's professional rival, erected 
an extremely fine dwelling here shortly before his death in 
50 B.C., which mansion was later purchased by Augustus 
when he had assumed the government and desired a suitable 


ARCH OF TITUS : part of Palatine visible to the left. 

residence ; and thus it was that the Palatine became the 
" Palace " of the Emperors. 

245. Extension of the Imperial Buildings : Central Posi- 
tion of the Palatine. Augustus, posing merely as the " First 
Citizen " among his fellow Quirites, and with a studious 
abhorrence of the outward forms of monarchy, had avoided 
establishing anything like an Imperial court ; but he was, of 
course, entitled to a large senatorial mansion. In addition 
to his private residence elaborate offices had also to be pro- 
vided for the great corps of secretaries and clerks through 

288 A Day in Old Rome 

whom he governed half the provinces and controlled the army. 
This corps of bureaucrats has grown with every new accretion 
to imperial power; furthermore, Augustus's pretence of 
democratic simplicity has been utterly discarded following the 
extravagances of Caligula and Nero. 

One enormous building has, therefore, been added to 
another. The last private dwellings upon the hill have been 
condemned, and the Caesars now control every inch of the 
Palatine, making it so completely the abode of majesty that 
" palace " will remain across the centuries as the name for 
any seat of princely authority. 

246. Commanding View from the Palatine Hill. This is 
the smallest of the Seven Hills, but it is the real focus of the 
other six, which " seem to surround it with their homage, as 
being their king." It is so close to the Capitol that the 
crazy Caligula erected a bridge (now long demolished) leading 
from his mansion clear over to the Temple of Capitoline 
Jove, in order that he might frequently " go and visit his 
friend Jupiter." The view from the crest of the palace 
structures is superb : northward across the Forum, and all 
the thickly clustered roofs on the slopes of the Quirinal, Vim- 
inal, and Esquiline, westward to the Capitol where the 
magnificent temples seem within a stone's toss, southward 
across the great hollow of the Circus Maximus and then 
across to the densely covered Aventine. Whether the Em- 
peror desires to harangue the Senate, to sacrifice to the greater 
gods, or to grace the chariot races Curia, temples, or 
circus are all close at hand ; with the Flavian Amphitheater 
to the northeast, almost equally near. 

247. Magnificence of the Palatine Structures. But the 
Palatine itself is perhaps the most glorious sight of all. 
It rises above the city two and three hundred feet to its upper 
parapets, lifting itself on several tiers of arches and pillared 
stories which gleam with marble below and present a perfect 

The Government Offices 


treasure house of gilded tiling above. Under the morning 
light with the sun flashing the gold of the multitudinous domes 
back into the clear azure the whole effect is incomparable. 
The natural foundations of the hill are covered with enor- 
mous substructures of masonry and concrete, and these are 
continued by long tiers of many-arched buildings which house 
the great government bureaus and ministries. Crowning 
these can be seen equally long forests of columns, upbearing 

PALATINE AND PALACE OF THE CAESARS: restoration by Spandoni. 

a whole complex of gabled roofs covered not merely with the 
gilded tiles, but with a whole legion of gilded or richly toned 
bronze statues. Here and there show forth bits of green- 
ery and foliage betraying the gardens and the parks re- 
served for the Lords of the World. 

The effect of this entire mass is overpowering. The eye 
wearies of counting the sweeping porticoes, tall monoliths, 
colossal statues, and quadrigas. The result is also enhanced 
by the use of great numbers of huge awnings, hung over 
nearly every opening and window, usually made in brilliant 


A Day in Old Rome 

colors, with the imperial purple very conspicuous. There 
will never be another Palatine in the history of the world. 

248. The More Famous Buildings on the Palatine: 
Enormous Display of Art Objects. This vast residence 
compound it cannot be called a single building can 
be reached by a number of inclined planes or stairways upon 
all four sides. Access is easy enough and crowds of slaves, 
plebeians, and nobles are incessantly coming and going, al- 
though a couple of Praeto- 
rians loll carelessly on their 
spear-shafts beside each in- 
gress. Possibly the easiest 
entrance is by the Clixus 
Victoria (" Ascent of Vic- 
tory ") which starts upward 
from the edge of the Old 
Forum very near to the 
Shrine of Vesta. 

To find one's way about 
the Palatine is, however, far 
more difficult than about 
the fora. It is not, of 
course, an area but a jumble 
of buildings, all splendid, but often thrust upon one another 
without any real system. Augustus added extensively to 
the old house of Hortensius, and particularly he built 
a very pretentious Temple to Apollo. Tiberius, the next 
Emperor, added a new wing, the Domus Tiberiana, almost 
doubling the bulk of the former structures. Caligula thrust 
on more buildings still. Across the ages will be pointed 
out that Cryptoporticus, the twisting underground gallery 
connecting parts of the palaces, where the stout tribune 
Cherea struck down and slew the insane despot, January 
24th, 41 A.D., to the great profit of the entire world. Nero 

ROMAN URN c typical art object. 

The Government Offices 291 

added other wings and structures, some of which had to be 
rebuilt after his great fire. Finally, Domitian added a 
whole series of enormous halls, baths, banqueting rooms, 
and government offices. The Palatine is now virtually com- 
plete: Trajan and Hadrian have erected their monuments 
elsewhere, and so will most of the later Emperors. 1 

We do not propose to explore all these buildings hi so vast 
a complex. It is enough that one superb court or facade 
follows another; that almost every hall and anteroom is of 
sumptuous splendor; that veined marbles, porphyry, elab- 
orate bas-reliefs, and profuse gilding seem multiplied until 
they become commonplace. All the artificiality and over- 
elaborate art of the age seems concentrated around the 
Palatine. Within the great substructures and the arched 
terraces which bear up the more important buildings, even 
in the cells for the slaves and the offices for the toiling clerks 
there are fine frescos and handsome stucco reliefs. 

249. The Triclinium and Throne Room of Domitian. 
As for some of the special areas and chambers, they justify 
the praises of the servile court poets : " Olympian " is the 
mildest word which they can use. Take, for example, the 
port ; coes of Domitian. On the inner side of their vast length, 
they are lined throughout with marble so Highly polished 
that it shines like mirrors. What matter if the original 
cause for their use was the desire of the suspicious tyrant to 
have a promenade wherein nobody could glide upon him 
without warning from behind. The result is indescribably 
brilliant. But let us go rather into the " House of Domitian " 
itself, and inspect the great banqueting hall, the Triclin- 
ium. " The gods themselves might quaff their nectar 
there ! " cried the enraptured Martial. 

1 The only important addition after Domitian was made by Septimius 
Severus, who, about 200 A.D., built the very lofty Septizonium, a new 
palace at the southeast corner of the hill. 

292 A Day in Old Rome 

This magnificent apartment leads off from a marvelous 
peristyle-court of more than 10,000 square feet in area. The 
chamber itself is not huge, but is arranged so that three tables 
(each for nine guests) can be placed laterally along the walls, 
with the third, opposite the door of entry, for the Emperor 
and his chief guests. Twenty-seven dignitaries thus can 
dine together. On each side of the hall five large windows 
are separated by massive columns of red granite. 

As the guests of majesty repose on their silken cushions 
they can see between the columns still another court where 
water is softly gushing from a fountain, and purling in a small 
cascade over steps of marble, verdure, and flowers. The 
ornamentation may be grievously overdone ; the taste of some 
of the reliefs and wall pictures is questionable, but the effect 
of the sheen from the many colored marbles, the gilding, and 
the heavy fret work around the lofty dome undeniably justi- 
fies all the enthusiasm of the verse-mongers. 

Equally striking is the Throne Room built by Domitian. 
It is called the tablinum as in humbler dwellings, but it is 
actually used for great state audiences. It is a hall of im- 
posing size. You enter past the guards, and directly across 
the broad area is a niche where sits " Caesar Augustus " 
upon a gilded dais and curule-chair, every whit as truly a 
throne as that of the Great King of Parthia. The walls of 
the room are covered with extraordinarily costly marbles, 
and around the circuit rise twenty-eight Corinthian columns 
of intricate workmanship. Eight large niches contain as 
many colossal statues wrought of adamantine basalt, and 
a Hercules and a Bacchus are particularly noteworthy. 
The entrance door is flanked by two enormous columns of 
gidlo antico, deep yellow marble flushed with pink, imported 
from Numidia. The threshold is a single immense slab 
of a whiter marble brought from Greece. 

Words thus exhaust themselves describing these grandiose, 

The Government Offices 293 

overpowering, magnificent courts, halls, and apartments. We 
can perforce ignore such features as the separate hippodrome 
and the luxurious gardens reserved for imperial amusement 
or recreation. Better it is to concentrate attention upon the 
human life wherewith the Palatine ordinarily abounds. 

250. Swarms of Civil Officials Always on the Palatine. 
All the Palatine revolves around the Emperor. Rome is 
not yet governed by an unabashed despotism, yet it would 
be hard to name a deed that a king of old Babylon could 
perform which a Princeps et Imperator could not perpetrate 
if his heart really desired, although certain restraints and 
decencies make this absolutism endurable save under a 
Nero or a Domitian. 

The thousands of persons who dwell upon or are employed 
upon the Palatine are all employed with one of two things, 
the imperial court or the imperial public service. Since 
Hadrian (despite the grumblings of his Italian subjects) is 
still absent from Rome the court ceremonial has practically 
ceased. A few of the Emperor's relatives dwell in gilded 
ease in certain wings of the palace, but except for the care- 
takers the great army of self-sufficient slaves and still more 
self-sufficient freedmen who act as valets, cooks, waiters, 
musicians, chamberlains, and in every other menial capacity, 
can eat, play dice, and discuss the races in idleness. 

Now as always, however, the imperial public service which 
sends its impulse to the remotest borders of Dacia, Syria, or 
Britain is functioning actively, and most of the vast bureaus 
and ministries haye huge offices upon the Palatine. The 
Praetorian Prsefect, as high judge for the Emperor's half 
of the provinces, daily mounts his supreme tribunal. The 
four Imperial Secretaries for Finance, for Petitions, and for 
Official Correspondence (one for the Greek provinces and 
one for the Latin) direct their great corps of subordinates. 
The chief Procurators (Superintendents) of the enormous 

294 A Day in Old Rome 

Imperial Estates all over the Empire are receiving reports 
and protecting their masters' interests ; and so with a great 
body of other high officials. 

The huge administrative machine perfected by the practical 
Roman genius is running steadily so steadily that even 
under a very bad Emperor, even a Nero, it will function for 
years with no great harm to the governed millions. The 
only condition is that th$ tyrant will reserve his cruelties for 
the nobility and refrain from tactless interference with the 
secretaries instead of indulging merely in vicious personal 
pleasures. 1 

251. The Emperor Center of High Social Life. Into 
these high political concerns we dare not enter, but the social 
life of the Palace cannot be so well ignored. Already the 
imperial freedmen are busy planning the great receptions and 
state banquets which Hadrian must give soon after his 
return. In half the atria of Rome men and women are dis- 
cussing vigorously, " When ' Caesar ' returns will he have 
any new ' Friends/ and will he have discontinued any old 

Already it is rumored that certain freedmen (supposedly 
in their lord's confidence) have received a great bribe to 
get them to induce the " Dominus " (so loyal etiquette 
calls the monarch) to summon back to favor a certain Jallius, 
an indiscreet senator whom, on his last sojourn in Rome, 
Hadrian had ordered excluded from his personal receptions. 
Rome is a city of rumors, but nowhere do these abound more 
than about the Palatine, always centering on the doings, 
words, and even the health of the Emperor. "Smoke" 
from the valets, barbers, and tablenservitors of the Augustus 

1 As is, of course, well known, such emperors as Tiberius, Nero, and 
Domitian were popular with, the provinces, which were usually weU 
governed under them. Their cruelties smote mainly upon the senatorial 

The Government Offices 295 

can often be sold for precious aurei. Self-respecting mon- 
archs punish the tale-bearers pitilessly, but the latter can 
seldom be caught in the act. 1 Every Emperor knows that he 
is the constant victim of outrageous tattling. 

262. Friends of Caesar (Amid Caesaris). But an Em- 
peror's company is not confined to menials ; neither does he 
spend all his time at council with his ministers. Being a 
Roman among Romans he is forced to spend a good deal of 
his day receiving the social attentions of those who proudly 
list themselves as his " Friends." 

To be an Amieus Ccesaris, to be entitled to greet as a kind 
of social equal the personage who is worshiped as a god in 
all the Oriental provinces, who is (by adoption in Hadrian's 
case) the son of a Divinity, the " Deified Trajan/' and whose 
own " divine genius " (guardian spirit) receives prayer and 
incense in every government building this honor seems 
almost dazzling. Every Emperor ranks his " Friends " 
in two classes " First Class Friends," great secretaries, 
ministers, and generals who must have constant access to 
his cabinet, certain very distinguished members of the Sen- 
ate, certain near relatives, and also a few congenial personal 
companions poets, and philosophers, with great Emperors, 
or jockeys, gamesters, and debauchees with the bad; and 
" Second Class Friends," which great catalogue includes all 
the rest of the Senate, many of the more distinguished equites, 
and a select sprinkling of such plebeians as Caesar delights 
to honor. 

The First Class Friends, it is true, pay for their glory by a 
heavy obligation to appear at the Palace every morning 
usually before daylight, and greet the Lord of the World 

1 About 230 A.D. Alexander Sevenis caught a palace menial selling 
gossip, and had Mm executed by being burned in a fire of damp wood. 
"He is punished by smoke/' said the irate monarch, "who sold 

296 A Day in Old Rome 

while he sits up in bed and is dressed by his valets. 1 Very 
much of state business is then transacted, but the obligation 
to appear merely to say an "Ave" is imperative provided 
the Emperor is in his residence. Sometimes merely to avoid 
giving gouty ministers great inconvenience Hadrian has 
been known considerately to pass the night away from the 
Palace in order to dispense with the ceremonial in the morn- 

253. The Imperial Audiences. After the Emperor has 
been clad with due ceremony, has conversed with his inti- 
mates, and perhaps has sealed some urgent rescripts, he is 
ready for the morning audience. A full cohort (1000 men) of 
the Praetorian Guard is always on service at the Palace and a 
platoon of these without armor, but in magnificent cloaks, 
stands by the entrance to the hall of state. Only men as a 
rule are admitted. 2 Under certain evil or very suspicious 
Emperors such as Claudius there has been the humiliating 
custom of searching every visitor (whatever his rank) for 
weapons, ere admission; but that abomination has ceased 
at last, beginning with Nerva. 

In the broad courts before the audience chamber some doz- 
ens of senators dismount from their litters every morning 
when the monarch is in Rome, and sometimes the delay ere 
the doors are opened is so long that much personal business 
can be transacted and philosophical disquisitions indulged 
in. Second Class Friends do not have to appear every morn- 
ing, but it is a serious error to fail to use your entree fairly 

254. Social Ruin through Imperial Disfavor. The pro- 
cess resembles that with the clients in the noble 16rds 3 own 

1 The ceremony was not unlike that of the leote of French kings like 
Louis XTV, under the Old Regime before 1789. 

* The Empresses would give a similar reception, however, to the wives 
of their husbands' "Friends." 

The Government Offices 297 

houses a little earlier in the day, although with greater 
solemnity and formality. 1 A group of gorgeously dressed 
" admissioners " (admissionales) keep the doors, and scan 
every applicant closely, but besides the regular Friends they 
frequently admit certain distinguished visitors from the prov- 
inces, especially members of those provincial delegations that 
are always junketing to Rome to proffer the homage of their 
district to the Emperor, or to present some kind of a public 

The last day that Hadrian gave audience ere leaving Rome, 
when our friend Calvus waited upon him, there was an awk- 
ward happening. A very roistering and immoral young 
nobleman, Calvisius, presented himself when the doors were 
opened, whereupon an imperial freedman took him by the 
arm, announcing : " You are no longer admitted to the pal- 
ace." Calvisius instantly slunk away, overwhelmed by his 
calamity. He would have suffered less if he had forfeited half 
his fortune. 

Even worse was in store for the aforementioned Jallius, 
who was said to have mocked at Hadrian's pretentious as an 
art critic (a tender point) while over-drunk at a dinner party. 
He was suffered indeed to enter and to approach the 
imperial seat : " Am, Caesar ! " he called out boldly, hoping 
that his indiscretion had been unnoticed. " Vale* Jattie!"* 
(" Good-by, Jallius ") answered the monarch, turning his face 
from him. The insult was offered in the presence of at least 

1 Sometimes, with an affectation of democracy, almost any decently 
clad person would be admitted to present petitions or merely to pay 
respects. Servile prostrations before the Emperor were not encouraged 
under the Early Principate ; once when a petitioner went through great 
bowings and scrapings while presenting a scroll to Augustus, the latter 
cried testily, "You act as if you were presenting some money to an 

1 This was the form used by Augustus in announcing to Fabius Maxi- 
mus the withdrawal of imperial favor. 


A Day in Old Rome 

fifty tale-bearers and that night it was over Rome. Under a 
bad Emperor, Jallius's life would have been in sore jeopardy, 
and as it was he was socially ruined; every time-serving 
nobleman closed his house to him and his innocent wife and 

children shared his ostra- 
cism. His only hope now 
is that when Hadrian re- 
turns he can be induced to 
let Jallius call again, and 
will answer affably " Aw!" 
to the visitor's greeting. 
Then the poor senator can 
hold up his head in the 

265. Enormous Value of 
Imperial Favor. On the 
other hand Calvus returned 
walking on air from this par- 
ticular audience. The Em- 
peror answered his greeting 
by calling him " My very 
dear Calvus " ; then asked, 
" And how are your Gratia 
and the boys ? " and actu- 
ally added, " Do you think 
Gallinas, the Thracian, is 
going to be a good match 
for Syrus in the arena? " finally, throwing in the sage ad- 
vice, " These morning frosts now are sharp if you don't 
dress warmly." l 

When Calvus quitted the hall all his friends swarmed 
around congratulating him on " the remarkable favor of the 

1 Polite chatter, as reported by Horace, such as was vouchsafed by 
Augustus and his great associate Maecenas, to their social favorites. 

CAESAR AUGUSTUS : showing cos- 
tume of a Roman general. 

The Government Offices 299 

Emperor," and intimating that he was surely destined to 
be Consul within a few years and then the imperial legate 
of a great province. He can hardly persuade them that he 
has received no private information about the boundary 
settlement with Parthia and the terms being offered the chiefs 
of the Quadi. In fact the imperial looks and moods are 
studied as carefully as is the weather. " Did he frown or 
look pleased when so and so was mentioned ? " " Did he 
offer his cheek graciously to be kissed by that ex-consul? " 
" Did he invite the chiefs of the delegation from Provincial 
Asia to dinner?" "Did he cast down his eyes gloomily 

when they said N was about to be tried to-morrow in 

the Senate ? " No marvel if bad Emperors are easily per- 
suaded that they are gods on earth, and even good Emperors 
have to strive hard not to allow their heads to be turned ! 

Hadrian is still away from Rome, and both First Class 
Friends and Second Class Friends are probably a little re- 
lieved not to have to play the client to him. If the days of 
bloody tyranny seem past, the fate of poor Jallius can still 
overtake almost any of them. 1 But though the vast hall of 
audience stands vacant save for gaping sightseers, there are 
plenty of distinguished visitors upon the Palatine come to 
transact business at the imperial ministries, or very likely 
at the great offices of the City Prsefect (Prasfectus Urbi), who 
is essentially the Mayor of Rome. 

266. City Government of Rome : the City Praefect 
(Praefectus Urbi). It was one of the greatest sins of the 
defunct Republic that it permitted Rome to grow until it 
became an enormous metropolis without providing any 

1 Hadrian, although not a bloody man, was so averse to being opposed 
in argument that the philosopher Favorinus, with whom he took issue on 
a point in etymology, promptly announced that "Caesar was correct," 
and so ended the discussion amiably. "But you were really correct," 
protested Favorinus's friends afterward. M Ah ! " replied he with a laugh, 
" the master of thirty legions must be allowed to know better." 

300 A Day in Old Rome 

respectable police force, fire department, or other efficient 
means of securing law, order, and public safety. The old 
adiles (commissioners of public works) were overburdened 
men, with imperfect authority, few constables, and great 
political interests. In the days of Cicero great fires, great 
riots, and serious crimes occurred almost daily. In self- 
protection many prominent men had actually to arm their 
slaves in regular companies and even to hire the assistance 
of armed bands of gladiators. Augustus ended all this. 
Thanks to him, Rome has become one of the best policed 
and protected cities in the world. 

The old aediles l are now supplemented and largely super- 
seded by a corps of officials all named by the Emperor, 
for indefinite terms and removable by him at pleasure. At 
their head is that high " Clarissimus," the City Prefect. 
He is always a senator who has held the consulship, and who 
often has governed great provinces. To be named City 
Praefect is almost the highest civil honor in gift of the Caesars, 
and it ordinarily comes to a veteran nobleman of approved 
experience and integrity. He is really in part a military 
officer because at his command stand the " City Cohorts," 
the regular armed garrison of Rome, four Cohorts of reliable 
troops, one thousand men in each, ready to assist the ordi- 
nary police in repressing rioting. 

The City Prefect is responsible for the general good order 
of the metropolis; it is his business not merely to punish 
evil, but to take measures to prevent it, e.g. by breaking up 
illicit societies and assemblies, such as those of the " debased " 
Christians. In conjunction with the other magistrates he 
also takes measures to keep down the price of provisions. 
In addition he is the high judge in most cases arising around 
Rome, which are not especially reserved to other tribunals. 

1 These old "Republican" officers, now six in number, retained a 
certain control of the public markets, baths, taverns, etc. 

The Government Offices 301 

Particularly he and his deputies have jurisdiction over cases 
involving outrageous usury, betrayal of trust by guardians, 
unfilial conduct of children, and disrespect shown to patrons 
by freedmen. And to his court go all the charges of serious 
crimes sure to arise in a great city, barring, however, lesser 
police court cases these last falling to his colleague, the 
Prefect of the Watch. 

257. The Municipal Superintendents and Commissioners 
(Curator es). Aiding the City Prefect are several high 
superintendents or commissioners usually of at least pre- 
torian rank among the senators. The two " Curators of the 
Public Works " obviously have to look after the municipal 
buildings and especially the temples and the considerable 
endowments often attached to them. The Prefect of the 
Grain Supply (Proefectus Annonce) is a magistrate who 
in view of the importance of his function (see p. 242) will 
often be chosen with almost as great an eye to his efficiency 
as the City Prefect. 

Besides the corps of agents collecting grain in the provinces, 
the special deputy at Ostia, the " Official Grain Measurers," 
the " Grain Magazine-Keepers " (horrearii) , and the staff of 
clerks and porters, all the bakers of the city also are under 
the Prefect of the Grain Supply, and he can sit as high judge 
in all cases, criminal and civil, where the provisioning of the 
city is affected. As for the Tiber, it is so often bursting its 
levees and flooding the lower city that a special board of 
five senators, " Commissioners for the Tiber, River-Banks, 
and the Sewers/' attends alike to the care of the dikes and 
also to the great sewer system which drains the capital. 

258. Excellent Water Supply of Rome. An official 
board with duties of the first order is that of the " Curators 
of the Water Supply." There is a chief curator and two as- 
sistants, and since the task calls for expert professional knowl- 


A Day in Old Rome 

edge, these are not senators but imperial freedmen, or at the 
highest only equites. No sinecure, however, is their task. 
Justly are the Romans proud of the excellent water supply of 
the imperial city. As early as Augustus's time Strabo the 
geographer warned his fellow Greeks that while they could 
boast that their cities excelled the Roman in artistic adorn- 
ments, Rome rejoiced in a far better water system, in better 


pavements, and in better sewers. Certain of the latter, he 
declared in admiration, were " arched over with hewn stone 
and were so large that in some parts hay wagons can drive 
straight through them ! " 

By Hadrian's day the aqueducts supplying the city have 
become wholly admirable. Time fails us to go out into the 
Campagna or to the distant hills and see how, by gravity 
alone, and without the aid of pumping engines, " copious 
streams are conducted great distances despite the obstacles 

The Government Offices 303 

presented by mountains, valleys, or low-lying level plains, 
sometimes rushing along in vast subterranean tunnels, at 
other times supported on long ranges of lofty arches, the re- 
mains of which [in after ages] will still be seen spanning the 
waste of the Campagna." [Lanciani.] 

There is difficulty in making very large iron pipes capable 
of standing high pressure over long distances ; and as a re- 
sult the Roman engineers prefer to carry the water in chan- 
nels lined with solid cement and borne across the open ground 
on a vast series of arches. Besides, most of the good water 
near Rome leaves a calcareous deposit ; and it is much easier 
to clean out large channels than an underground piping sys- 

259. The Great Aqueducts. When we try to under- 
stand the water system of Rome we come upon astonishing 
figures for the great aqueducts. There are nine of these 
huge conduits in constant use. The oldest is the Aqua Appia, 
built in 312 B.C. by that tough old censor, Appius Claudius, 
and it starts only about eleven miles from the city, with nearly 
its entire bed underground; but when this supply proved 
inadequate the engineers had to reach much farther back 
into the hills to find powerful jets. An increasing proportion 
of the channels of the newer aqueducts has also to be on 
arches; for example, the Aqua Julia, built by Agrippa in 
33 B.C., has to go back fifteen and a half miles, and six and a 
half of these are on arches ; while the Aqua Claudia, built 
about 40 A.D., is no less than forty-six miles long with nine 
and a half on elevated arches. There are two others, the 
older Aqua Marcia and the slightly newer Aqua Anio Novus 
(taking water from the river Anio), that are not much shorter 
either upon the ground or in their elevated sections. 

Once inside the city this enormous volume of water is dis- 
tributed in a most scientific manner according to a scheme 
worked out by the mighty Agrippa. There are 700 public 

304 A Day in Old Rome 

pools and basins and 500 public fountains drawing their 
supply from 130 collecting heads or reservoirs. Only the 
poorest or tallest tenement houses, consequently, are bereft 
of a water supply, clear, sanitary, and abundant, such as 
most later cities can desire in vain until close upon the 
twentieth century. 

260. The Police System Instituted by Augustus. Al- 
most as important, however, as the excellent water supply 
came the blessing of the firm police system instituted by 
Augustus. There was an end at last to the fearful riots and 
even private wars of the later Republic, as when those 
cheerful desperadoes Clodius and Milo played at being the 
" Hector and Achilles of the Streets," and ordinary crime 
soon became comparatively rare. 

The city has also been divided into 14 " regions " (regiones) 
and these into 262 " precincts " (vici) distributed among the 
" regions." Each vicus is in theory a religious unit. It has 
its own little cedicula (petty temple) containing the images 
of the two guardian Lares of the neighborhood plus inevitably 
a statue of the Genius of the Emperor. Each vicus also has 
its two special curators, worthy tradesmen usually, elected 
by their fellow wardsmen and clothed with enough impor- 
tance to make the office desirable. Their chief official duty 
is to keep up the sacred rites at the central shrine and to help 
to compile the census lists, but they are also a kind of local 
arbitrators or justices of the peace who assist the police and 
look after the general weal of the precinet. 

261. The Police-Firemen of the Watch (vigiles): the 
Praefectus Vigilum. However, the actual security of Rome 
is not intrusted to any such unprofessional guardians. Au- 
gustus understood clearly the need of an effective police 
force apart from a mere armed garrison ; besides he had to 
protect the capital against the fearful and incessant fires ; 

The Government Offices 305 

as a result his new vigiles (" watchmen ") were a combination 
of policemen and firemen. The fourteen regions of Rome 
have now been coupled together into seven police districts, 
each possessing a regular police station (exvubitorvum) and 
two subordinate watch houses. 

Each district is intrusted to a separate cohort of vigiles 
about 1000 men strong, thus giving Rome a total force of 
some 7000. The vigiles are not actually soldiers, and not 
being honorable legionaries they are recruited almost entirely 
from the freedmen. However, after faithful service they 
can be transferred to the army. They are under a rigid 
discipline, nevertheless, and are divided into " centuries/ 5 
each under a centurion, with a tribune over the entire cohort. 
They have various weapons for an emergency, but the crowd 
usually mocks them for the fire-fighting apparatus with which 
they often hurry down the streets hooks, ladders, axes, 
simple hand-pumps, and above all, many buckets made of 
rope rendered water-proof with pitch. 

By their promptitude, discipline, and daring, even with 
such inadequate apparatus, these patrolmen can often stop 
very dangerous fires, and their familiar equipment gives 
them their nickname. " The ' Bucketmen ' are coming ! " 
is the yell that frequently disperses a knot of thieves or of 
turbulent bullies. 

At their different police stations the vigiles when off 
duty scribble many things upon the walls, 1 which give a 
vivid idea that life " on the force " is much the same in 
every age. At night these " Bucketmen " go out in little 
groups bearing tallow lanterns and patrol the pitch-black 
streets, rounding up evil-doers and detecting incipient fires. 

At each station there is a good-sized lock-up which never 
wants its unhappy occupants, also, it must be added, a pro- 

i As discovered by modern archseologists. 

306 A Day in Old Rome 

fessional torturer (qwBstionarius) to wring confessions out of 
slaves and other non-privileged prisoners without any tedious 
" third degree J> process. Petty offenses are tried summa- 
rily before the Prefect of the Watch or his deputies in police 
court at these stations ; and for great crimes the alleged of- 
fenders can be conveyed to a central jail, or admitted to bail, 
prior to a formal trial before the City Prsefect. 

The Prsefect of the Watch (Proefectus Vigilum), the head 
of this very important organization, is really the most im- 
portant municipal official in Rome except the City Prsefect. 
Since he has to do with much sordid detail, he is not a top- 
lofty senator, but only an eques ; nevertheless, his honor and 
dignity are great. The subprsefect under him is also a highly 
respected officer. The entire force of the vigiles, although, 
of course, incessantly criticized and jeered at, is a very capa- 
ble body of men, whose faithfulness and energy go far to make 
life and property better protected in Rome than in most 
great cities at any age. 

So with this glance at the municipal government of a 
metropolitan community of 1,500,000 we quit the Palatine. 
A new opportunity has presented itself: we can visit the 
Praetorian Camp. 



262. The Army the Real Master of the Roman Empire. 
The Romans beyond all else have been a military people. 
Their great abilities as law givers, administrators, dissemi- 
nators of civilization through Western Europe apparently 
would have been almost in vain if the legions had failed 
against Hannibal, against Mithridates, against Vercingetorix. 
Furthermore, the power of the Caesars is primarily that of 
war chiefs. Let the army revolt, and Senate, plebeians, and 
provincials can protest their loyalty ever so frantically 
the Princeps, the " First Citizen," nevertheless is a lost man. 

Every Emperor knows this fact. His memory goes back 
to those two fearful years 68 and 69 A.D. when first a revolt 
in Gaul and a mutiny by the Praetorians in Rome overthrew 
Nero and set up Galba, then a second mutiny of the Praeto- 
rians set up Otho, then a revolt of the Rhine legions set up 
Vitellius, then a counter-revolt by the Danube and Syrian 
legions set up Vespasian ; with the civilian population look- 
ing on helplessly, and being almost as helplessly plundered, 
while decidedly small bodies of professional swordsmen set- 
tled the fate of the Empire. Still later they remember how 
after Domitian's murder, the Praetorians (whom that despot 
had caressed and corrupted) forced his successor Nerva to 
punish the very conspirators to whom Nerva himself owed 
the throne. 

Hadrian, in turn, who passes for a very " constitutional " 
ruler, when his kinsman Trajan died (117 A.D.), allowed him- 


308 A Day in Old Rome 

self to be " proclaimed " immediately by the soldiers in the 
East where he then was. Next he wrote with studious mod- 
esty to the Senate begging the Conscript Fathers to " excuse " 
the zeal of the army and to ratify its action in choosing him 
Imperator. Every senator knew the blade might soon be 
at his own neck if he openly opposed confirming the mandate 
of the legionaries. The army, in short, is the final authority 
in the Roman Empire. Presently there may even be an 
Emperor [Septimus Severus about 210 A.D.] who will give 
his sons direfully blunt and effective counsel : " Enrich the 
army and then you can do anything." 

263. Army Held under Stiff Discipline and Concentrated 
on Frontiers. Nevertheless at present the army is under a 
tight rein. Trajan and Hadrian by a mixture of donatives 
and severity have restored firm discipline. The Roman world 
functions freely and normally behind the frontier barriers 
held by the legions, with the great chaos of barbarism tossing 
harmlessly outside. Furthermore, this army, if very formi- 
dable, is, we shall see, decidedly small. It is distributed 
mainly along the northern and eastern frontiers, with a 
sizable garrison and guard-corps at Rome. 

In the arrangement of the army, most of the provinces seem 
absolutely divested of regular soldiers save those in transit, 
and their governors only require a good constabulary to 
arrest brigands and rioters. The collapse of the Jewish in- 
surrection has practically ended the l,ast serious attempt to 
cast off Roman authority, and the provinces submit not 
simply because of fear, but because they are now bound to 
the imperial regime by great cultural and economic interests. 1 

1 For the attitude of provincials under Roman rule the student can 
with interest read the speech put in the mouth of King Agrippa, the 
descendant of Herod, by Josephus (" Jewish War " : book II, ch. 16) in 
which he tells the Jews of Nero's day, (1) that on the whole the Roman 
rule is so reasonable and tolerable they have no real cause to revolt 
against it ; (2) that all nations, including the most warlike such as Sparta, 

The Army 309 

In Rome itself, thanks to the presence of the imperial guard, 
soldiers are frequent sights upon the streets, but in many 
other great cities of the Empire they are comparative rarities. 
Their duties are in the frontiers, and their officers know well 
the demoralization wrought by keeping their men in city 

When Augustus found the world at his feet he also found 
himself with armies which were very expensive and somewhat 
ready to mutiny against him. Very promptly, therefore, he 
reduced his 45 legions to only about 18. This number proved 
too few, and by the end of his reign they had risen to 25 ; these 
in turn have been gradually increased to 30 ; and this will be 
the ordinary number for a good while longer. 1 The legion- 
aries are the regular troops of the line, on whose disciplined 
fighting the safety of civilization may well depend. There 
are, however, no ordinary legionaries stationed in Rome, al- 
though we can, of course, obtain full information in the capi- 
tal about them. Their place is taken by a magnificent and 
arrogant guard-corps the Praetorians. 

264. The Praetorian Guard of the Emperors. The 

Praetorian guards are the successors of the old Prcetoriani, 
picked men, who guarded the Prsetorium (general's resi- 
dence or tent) in the armies of the old Republic. But the 
new Imperators were entitled to a much larger and more 
permanent guard, and they also desired to have a reliable 
body of troops always in or near Rome to protect against 
an uprising. Augustus, therefore, organized nine " prae- 
torian cohorts/' although keeping only three directly in 
Rome ; his successor, Tiberius, however, boldly concentrated 

Macedonia, the turbulent Gauls and Spain, have long since submitted ; 
(3) that these have not merely submitted but keep obedient with only 
fL trifling local display of armed force ; (4) that resistance to Rome is so 
hopeless in any case that a revolt would be impious suicide. 
1 About 200 A.I>. they were raised to 33. 


A Day in Old Rome 

them all in the imperial city, and built for them an enormous 
camp behind the Viminal hill, on the northeast side of the 

Here they have remained as the dreaded engine of the Cae- 
sars. Disguise the fact as he may, every senator knows 
in his heart : " If the Senate defies the Emperor, the Prseto- 


rians can and will sack the Curia." So long as the Praetorians 
are obedient no Emperor need tremble overmuch at stories 
of a provincial uprising. When the Praetorians desert he 
had better, as did Nero, slink away to commit suicide. 

The guard-corps is jealously regarded by the frontier le- 
gions who sometimes turn against it, but thanks to its position 
at the capital its power is tremendous. Even the privates 
walk down the streets with a confident swagger can they 

The Army 311 

not make and unmake Emperors ? If the army really con- 
trols the Empire, the Praetorians go far to control the will 
of the army. 

265. The Praetorian Praefect and the Praetorian Camp. 
Such being the case, there is one high official whom the Cse- 
sars will always select with greater care than any other 
the Prcetorian Prcefect. On this general rests responsibility 
for the military efficiency and loyalty of the corps. If he is 
a scheming bloody man, he can, like Tiberius's prsefect 
Sejanus, almost place himself upon the throne; and if he 
is simply a faithful competent officer, his public services 
excel that of any civil functionary. 

Since curiously enough the Emperor usually intrusts to 
the Praetorian Prsefect the task of hearing legal " appeals 
to Csesar " from the imperial half of the provinces, it is not 
unusual to name two preefects, nominally of equal authority 
but with one of them often a trained jurist, and the other 
more concerned with the military management of the corps. 
This has the additional advantage of making it harder to 
start an insurrection, each Prsefect will keep watch upon 
his colleague. 

Inasmuch as the Emperor is now absent from Rome a 
detachment of the guard is away with him, but the world 
being in general peace there is no need (as in a major war) 
for the entire corps to go forth to reinforce the frontier le- 
gions. The Praetorians are therefore on duty as usual; 
one cohort at the Palatine, the remainder barracked at their 
great camp. 

The C astro, Prcetoria * is more than a mere cantonment ; it 
is a real fortress, only to be stormed after desperate fighting. 
We enter it from the central gateway (Porta Prcstoria) which 
looks straight westward upon the city. A lofty wall of ma- 

1 Its site to-day is occupied by the chief railroad station of Rome, by 
which most foreign visitors enter the city and depart. 

312 A Day in Old Rome 

sonry, brick, and concrete, crowned by suitable battlements, 
surrounds a vast rectangular area about 1400 feet wide, and 
1100 feet deep. The greater and lesser gates are crowned 
with fine marble sculptures almost worthy of the Palatine. 
In the center of the area rises a mass of office buildings, a 
residence for the Prefect and a small temple to the military 
gods such as Mars, and especially to the deified emperors. 
The side walls of the inclosure are extended on the inside by 
an enormous system of arches and vaulting, making many 
deep chambers where thousands of men are easily barracked. 

In the open area fountains are playing, and the sun is send- 
ing a flying glory from the burnished armor of a cohort 
standing at rest, while certain officers affix medals of honor, 
or bestow spears and banners of honor upon various men who 
have lately distinguished themselves during some detached 
duty in Mauretania. Everything about the place betrays 
a perfect " police " ; all commands are executed with ex- 
treme promptness; and every individual seems absolutely 
to know his part, as being one cog in an enormous war ma- 
chine, into the making of which has entered an almost in- 
conceivable amount of skill and energy. 

266. Organization and Discipline of the Praetorians. 
The Praetorians are organized much as the ordinary legion- 
ary troops with certain proud modifications. The regular 
legions can be recruited from all over the Empire ; the Prae- 
torians are still drawn only from Italy. They receive twice 
the pay of the legionaries, and their term of service is only 
sixteen years as against twenty with the regulars. Besides 
these advantages, and the joy of living near to the pleasures 
of Rome, their discipline is said to be much easier. 

The emperors, who fear the mutterings of the guard-corps 
much more than they do those of the Senate, often shower 
special bonuses upon the Praetorians. Their centurions and 
still more their tribunes are. welcome guests in the most aris- 

The Army 313 

tocratic houses in Rome. Their weapons are the same as the 
legionaries', but, of course, their armor is of the finest ; and on 
gala occasions when the whole corps is ordered out with gilded 
or silvered helmets and cuirasses over purple military cloaks, 
the sight of these thousands of tall powerful warriors march- 
ing in perfect rhythm is astonishing beyond words. 

In one important respect the organization of the Prse- 
torians differs from that of the regular legionaries: their 
nine cohorts number 1000 instead of 600 men each and the 
whole guard-corps therefore amounts to about 9000 men. 
Considering that these troops are chosen for their splendid 
physiques, and are trained for years in every military accom- 
plishment, remarkable will be the foe of like numbers that 
can withstand them. As for the city of Rome, its whole 
raging populace is like mere chaff and straw if the trumpets 
sound through the camp, and the centurions thunder down 
their files, " Open the gates and clear the streets ! " 

267. The City Cohorts (Cohortes Urbanae). The Prae- 
torians, however, have some humbler comrades in Rome, in 
addition to police-firemen, the vigiles. Sometimes the guard- 
corps must follow the Emperor on campaign, but neverthe- 
less the capital needs a fixed garrison. The City Praefeet 
(see p. 300), therefore, commands four additional cohorts 
(cohortes urbance) also of 1000 each, in a special camp in the 
northern part of the metropolis. These " City Cohorts " 
are organized much like the Praetorians, and in a grave emer- 
gency would act with them ; but they have longer terms of 
service, lesser pay, severer discipline. 

It is far less of an honor to belong to this force than to the 
Praetorians, and there is little " fraternizing " between its 
members and the haughty guard-corps. However, they 
make 4000 more armed men always available for the defense 
and control of the city. Added to these can, of course, be 
the vigiles (7000 strong), easily changeable into genuine 

314 A Day in Old Rome 

soldiers in a crisis. This makes the total garrison of Rome, 
while the Praetorians are in the city, around 20,000 men, 
plus usually some marines detached from the squadrons at 
Ostia and Misenum. 

The frontiers are far away, but the central direction of the 
great imperial war machine is inevitably at Rome. From 
the Praetorian barracks issue those orders which can set the 
legions marching against the Caledonians of North Britain 
or the Arabs of the Syrian deserts. There can be no better 
place, therefore, for inquiry about the organization and dis- 
cipline of that grim efficient engine which maintains the Pax 
Romana and makes possible the splendid, artificial Grseco- 
Roman civilization. 

High officers are constantly passing through Rome. Some 
of these men have had long and distinguished careers, and 
among them is a certain Aulus Quadratus, a gray and grizzled 
veteran, now in the capital for honorable retirement, after an 
unusual term of service. By tracing his experience, a good 
insight can be gained into the organization and duties of the 

268. A Private in the Legions: the Legionary Organi- 
zation. Quadratus was born in South Gaul (Gallia Nar- 
bonensis), a country that has already been well Romanized, 
and from which the government draws many excellent le- 
gionaries. 1 He was a poor free laborer on a great estate, but 
when he was only about eighteen an enrolling officer appeared 
and demanded a certain number of recruits of his master. 
The latter naturally suggested taking several of the youngest 
and least valuable of the hands. Quadratus was strong, 
courageous, and adventuresome, and he did not object to this 
informal type of " selective draft/' Thus he soon found 
himself a private in the camp of the " Second Augustan Le- 

1 An ever larger proportion of legionary troops had to be enlisted in 
the provinces, although preferably in the parta somewhat Romanized. 

The Army 


gion " (legio secunda augusta) stationed in a great fortified 
camp guarding the Rhine somewhere near later Mayence 
or Strassbourg in " Upper Germany " (Alsace and the Rhen- 
ish Palatinate). 

Once enlisted, Quadratus realized that at least twenty 
years of unremitting service lay ahead of him. Home life 
and marriage were forbidden 
the soldiery, and their whole 
lives revolved around the 
army. The Roman discipline 
caught each man, and each 
became a valuable and con- 
tented soldier only so far as 
he submitted to this discipline 
and merged his personality in 
the vast organization. 

Quadratus was, therefore, 
promptly " put under the 
vine-stock," the stout cudgel 
of twisted vine twigs with 
which the centurions vigor- 
ously corrected their tyros. 
At first he was a very igno- 
rant and unimportant part of 
the " Second Augustan," but soon he understood its organ- 
ization and became proud of its history. Every legion con- 
sisted of ten cohorts, each in turn divided into six centuries. 1 
Each century contained in theory a hundred infantry, mak- 
ing 6000 for the entire legion. Besides these, there was a 
small cavalry force for scouting attached to each legion, four 
turma (squadrons) of 30 horsemen each. The various con- 


1 In Hadrian's time a change was taking place whereby the first cohort 
in a legion contained about twice as many men as there were in any of 
the other nine ; but this alteration became only gradually effective. 


A Day in Old Rome 

tingents, however, were seldom quite full. When the Second 
Augustan went to battle it reckoned, therefore, somewhere 
under 6000 men. 

269. Training of the Legionaries: the Pilum and the 
Gladius. Quadratus, under very severe drill masters, 
learned the use of weapons. Nothing could take the place, 
so he was taught, of cool proficiency with sword and javelin. 
It was the trained valor of the average Roman legionary, 

ROMAN SIEGE WORKS : restoration of Caesar's siege works at Alesia. 

not the skill often of his commanders, that had given to the 
Caesars the mastery of the world, and while the discipline 
was strict, and the training incessant, pains were taken not to 
destroy the young man's self-respect, or those powers of 
initiative which were the glory of his profession. 

He was taught furthermore to despise those enemies, who, 
like the old Macedonians, were so lacking in personal re- 
sources that they had to go into battle wedged together 
shield to shield with long spears bristling in front the 
rigid " phalanx " formation. This is excellent on level ground 
when the foe is all ahead, but often becomes a source of 

The Army 


danger to itself because the closely packed soldiers are de* 
prived of any chance to display personal valor, and are al- 
most helpless to change position if attached on flank or rear* 
Quadratus in his training was taught to stand five feet 
from his comrades on either side with plenty of room to swing 
his shield and javelin. 

Long exercise made him a master of his two weapons. The 
heavy javelin (pilum) is a devilish missile, as every foe of 


Rome has learned to his cost. It is about six and a half 
feet long with a heavy wooden butt and a long blade-like 
head, usually barbed and razor keen. Flung by a prac- 
ticed soldier at short range it can knock down any adversary 
who is not firmly braced, even if it does not pierce his shield. 
Once lodged in the shield it is no light thing to draw it out 
and not expose oneself to a second deadlier blow. 

The pilum, they told Quadrates, was what had really made 
the Roman Empire possible ; but it is duly supplemented by 
the Spanish short sword (gladius). This is a weapon bor- 


A Day in Old Rome 

rowed, perhaps, from Spain but thoroughly Italianized. 
The blade is about thirty-three inches long, two-edged, 
sharp-pointed, and always used for thrusting. The instant 
a legionary has flung his pilum, and while his foe if not 
wounded is at least utterly demoralized from the shock, he 
whips his gladius % from his thigh and leaps upon him. A 
single good thrust will disembowel a man, and he who is 
thus assailed by a trained Roman swordsman should pray 

to his native gods he will need 
all aid possible. 

270. Defensive Weapons. 
These two very simple weapons 
Quadratus was taught to handle 
to perfection, until across the 
years their use became simply 
mechanical to him. Meantime 
he was learning to march, leap, 
and fight in his heavy defensive 
armor. He wore a stout me- 
tallic cuirass of fish-scale plates, 
and a solid helmet of brass upon 
which in parades and in actual 

battle he set a nodding plume of horse-hair. This helmet 
had brow- and cheek-pieces giving very perfect protection, 
but was so heavy that while marching he was allowed to carry 
it swung from a strap upon his breast. 

Of course, however, his chief defensive weapon was his 
shield. This capital piece of armor is a rectangle of solid 
leather about four by two and one half feet, rimmed with 
iron and with handles for carrying on the left arm. A trained 
legionary knows how to fend and lunge with his shield with 
marvelous agility, and by means of the solid metal base in 
the center he can strike a tremendous blow. Almost no 
weapon can penetrate the shield, and thanks to it and his 


The Army 


cuirass and his helmet, a soldier can march unscathed amid 
a perfect shower of arrows. Every technical point about his 
armor has, of course, been worked out scientifically. Simple 
as it appears, it represents a triumph of human skill. 

271. Rewards and Punishments for Soldiers. Thus 
accoutered Quadratus gained his first experience when the 
Second Augusta was or- 
dered over the Rhine to 
punish a tribe of Ger- 
manic raiders in later-day 
Hessen. In the fighting 
that ensued he so proved 
his skill and courage that 
he received his first deco- 
ration, the right to wear 
a small banderole upon 
his pilum when his co- 
hort appeared on parade 
ground. Discipline was 
severe, but rewards for 
faithfulness and valor 
were prompt and conspic- 
uous. He had long seen 
his older comrades march- 
ing about with "spears 
of honor," banderoles, 

and above all with huge medals and medallions, which, upon 
gala occasions, they wore upon their breasts. 

Long before Quadratus's career was ended, he, like many 
others, had a perfect collection of these medals, which hung 
jangling over his cuirass almost like a second coat of armor. 
Everybody knew the honors awarded his comrades, and 
there was constant emulation to deserve like decorations as 
well as more substantial rewards. No system could be better 

320 A Day in Old Rome 

devised to call out the valorous service of simple-hearted and 

often very uncultivated men. 

While Quadratus, without too many blows from 
his centurions' vinestock, was thus on his way to 
promotion, he could witness the punishment of less 
fortunate comrades. Stripes, docking of pay, and 
extra duty were the standard penalties ; but some- 
times there were worse inflictions. Once a whole 
century acted in a cowardly manner. It was sen- 
tenced for one month to bivouac outside the camp 
and to eat bread of barley, not of wheat, the food 
of brave and obedient troops. 

Sometimes, of course, capital penalties were de- 
manded. Once a private was guilty of gross insub- 
ordination ; he had to " run the gantlet " 
(Justuarium) between two long files of sol- 
diers who beat him with cudgels while he 
dashed vainly down the line, perishing ere 
he could reach the end. Once a detach- 
ment of half-drilled auxiliaries fled in an 
outrageous manner before the enemy. To 

JAVELIN: ^each a stern lesson these irregulars were 
pilum ,, . . in,.- , , ,. 

of the decimated ; being forced to stand dis- 

legion- armed before the whole legion, while lots 
"y* were cast selecting every tenth man, who 
was forthwith dragged from the ranks and beheaded. 

272. Pay and Rations in the Army: Soldiers' 
Savings Banks. While a private Quadratus, of 
course, drew the private's pay, 1200 sesterces ($48) 
a year, 1 out of which, however, was deducted a 
certain part of his upkeep and equipment. Even 
as it was, however, this gave fairly ample spending money, 
and every soldier was required to deposit a part of his wages 

1 In the earlier Empire it was only 900 sesterces ($36), 

The Army 

in the legionary savings bank, accumulating against the day 
of his happy discharge, and protected from barrack-room 
gambling and squandering. Besides this, brave service often 
won an increase of stipend, more valuable than many medals ; 
and Quadratus was presently a duplarius, a " double-pay 
man," to the great envy of certain comrades. 
Army rations would have seemed to another 
age extremely monotonous, a mere succession 
of huge portions of coarse bread or of wheat 
porridge. There were also distributions of 
salt pork, vegetables, etc., but the legionaries 
did not care greatly for meat. There were 
even cases when they protested against " too 
much beef and too little wheat." As for drink, 
everybody in camp enjoyed plenty of posca 
the dilution of cheap wine and vinegar. 1 

273. The Training of Soldiers : Non-Military Labors. 
Drilling went on incessantly. Even soldiers versed in their 
spear play seemed forever under arms merely to keep up the 
camp routine and morale. Every man was trained to be a 
good swimmer, to run, jump, and indulge in acrobatic feats 
like the testudo (when one group of men climbed upon their 
comrades' heads) so useful in storming walls. Thrice a 
month the whole legion went on a forced practice march, 
going at least twenty miles at four miles (or more) per hour, 
each man bearing, besides his heavy armor, an elaborate 
baggage kit, half a bushel of grain, one or two tall intrench- 
ing stakes, a spade, axe, rope, and other tools a weight of 
sixty pounds. 

If strictly military work failed, there were endless civilian 

1 It might be added that Roman legions appear to have had a medical 
department under a medicus legionis, which cared efficiently for the 
health of the troops. Camp sanitation was well understood, and epi- 
demics in the army were rare. 


A Day in Old Rome 

labors. Quadratus learned to use his spade almost as well 
as he could his pilum. He assisted in making and in repairing 
the great network of magnificent military roads leading to 
the frontiers. He worked in the legionary brick kilns, 
making bricks for the camps and the numerous small castella 

used to hold back the 
onthrusting Germans. 
He helped also to re- 
build a temple of Ju- 
piter at the garrison 
town of Mogontiacum 
(Mayence), and later to 
tug up the stones for a 
new amphitheater in 
that city. If he had 
been attached to a 
Syrian legion, he and 
his comrades might 
even have been ordered 
out to repel an invasion 
not of Parthians but of 
the more devastating 

274. Petty Officers 
in the Legions. All 
this experience came to 
him while he was earn- 
ing his first promotions. Everybody in the legion except 
those lowest and highest had somebody, indeed, whom he 
could command while some one else could command him, 
and there was a very ingenious division and interlocking of 
power and responsibility. 

Petty officers abounded, and having approved himself, 
Quadratus became one of the principales (high privates, 


The Army 323 

and corporals) first he became a lesser arius, " bearer of the 
watchword" for his century; then the "horn blower/' 
responsible often for important signals, then the signifer, 
the bearer of the small red flag (vexilliwri), surmounted with 
a small image of Victory, which was the standard of the 
cohort ; then he was named optio (" chosen " man by a cen- 
turion), a centurion's deputy and assistant, entitled to rank 
as a real officer and responsible for 
the control of a large squad of men. 
At last came one of the most 
important days of his life. At a 
general parade of the legion the 
commanding general (legatiis le- 

gionis) announced that Quadratus 

. , i , . j T MILITARY TRUMPET. 

was appointed centurion and sol- 
emnly intrusted him with the terrible vinestock. There was 
no danger he would show mercy to the raw recruits 1 

275. The Centurions: thek Importance and Order of 
Promotion. Quadratus was now a member of that group 
of officers to which the Roman army owed the greater part of 
its entire discipline, morale, and efficiency. There were 
sixty centurions in every legion. They were usually self- 
made men, sturdy peasants' sons like himself, who had risen 
from the ranks and then been selected by the general on ac- 
count of merit. 

The six military tribunes of each legion were, indeed, 
of higher rank, but they were often untested young noble- 
men, obliged to get a certain " military experience " before 
returning to Rome to sue for seats in the Senate and the favor 
of the Emperor. The centurions, however, were a permanent 
body. They had enlisted in the legion, and their whole 
life was tied up with it. If their methods were harsh, they 
prided themselves on showing an example of daring yet scien- 
tific valor in every battle. They were intensely devoted to 


A Day in Old Rome 

their corps, its honor, and the honor of their comrades. 
With good centurions a motley host of raw recruits soon be- 
came formidable legionaries ; without them the most skilful 
general might strive in vain to organize an army. 

As centurion Quadratus found a straight line of promotion 
before him. He was obliged to begin as the sixth centurion 

of the tenth cohort, and by 
process of seniority he was en- 
titled to rise to first centurion 
of the first cohort. He was 
making fair progress but ad- 
vancement was discouragingly 
stow, and he might have ended 
(as did most of his fellow 
officers) only part way up the 
ladder before he reached the 
retiring age, when a great good 
fortune came to him. 

While only a private he 
had won the " civic crown " 
(corona dwca) of oak leaves 
for saving the life of a comrade 
in battle; he had also gained 
the golden " mural crown " 
(corona muralis) for being the 
first in a desperate storming 
party over the parapet of a 
crude fortress held by the Germans. But now, while acting 
as senior centurion of a large detachment, with the com- 
manding tribune absent, he learned that a Roman garrison 
somewhere in the heart of the Black Forest region was hard 
pressed by a horde of Chatti. He led up his men suddenly 
and skilfully, broke through and dispersed the Barbarians 
and saved the garrison when it was at last gasp. For this 

OF-THE-LINE): one soldier is carry- 
ing his equipment upon a " Ma- 
rius*s Mule," a staff arranged to 
serve as a knapsack, invented by 
Marius about 1 10 B.C. 

The Army 


he was awarded the " siege crown " (corona obsidionalis) , a 
remarkable honor given by the rescued garrison, and plaited 
out of grass and weeds plucked on the spot of battle/ to the 
leader who had saved them. 

276. The Primipilus : the Great Eagle of the Legion, 
This distinction made it inevitable that when the post of 
first centurion in the legion fell vacant, Quadratus should be 
jumped over the heads of many 
others and made primipilus ("first 
javelin ") the head of the whole 
corps of centurions, entitled to 
participate with the tribunes in 
a council of war, and being, 
of course, now a man of great 
practical experience allowed to 
speak very openly to the Legate 
of the Legion himself. Quadratus 
was now in some respects the 
most important man in the Sec- 
ond Augustan. His war pay was 
considerable, and he added to it 
by the permitted usage of taking 
fees from the men for certain ex- 
emptions from duty. 

As primipilus he had the weighty responsibility of taking 
charge of the great golden eagle of the legion. In battle he 
would sometimes pluck it from the ordinary bearer (aquilifer), 
and electrify his comrades by dashing ahead with the full- 
sized golden eagle with outspread wings, surrounded by bril- 
liant streamers, now borne on its pole high above his shoulders. 
Where the eagle went, there honor and devotion made every 
legionary follow with the fury of a man possessed. In a 

1 The only materials for a crown assumed to be available in a rescued 


326 A Day in Old Rome 

certain shrewd tussle with the Hermunduri, the valor of the 
whole phalanx of those Barbarians was snuffed out when 
they saw the glistening aquila bearing down on them heading 
a six-thousand-man wedge, with all the ten cohort flags like 
obedient retainers thrusting on behind, and when next came 
the pitiless beat of the pila succeeded instantly by the rush 
of the expert swordsmen. 

277. Locations and Names of Legions. Having become 
primipilus while still a fairly young man, Quadratus was not 
at the end of his promotion. He had carefully saved his 
money, and presently he gained official nobility as an eques. 
Now he was appointed to an independent command not in the 
legionary regulars, but in the " auxiliary cohorts." 

Only about one half of the imperial forces are in the legions. 
These are for the heavy fighting; they are kept in large 
garrisons and are used for secondary work as little as possible, 
nor are they moved from province to province except in 
serious emergencies. 1 The Second Augustan has always been 
in Upper Germany and there presumably it will stay for 
generations more. The same is true of the Third Augustan 
in North Africa, of the Fourth Scythians on the Danube, of 

1 The distribution of the legions varied somewhat from one period to 
another according to the probable dangers on the exposed frontiers, but 
the largest armies were always stationed along the Rhine, the Danube, 
and the Euphrates. In Hadrian's time apparently the main forces lay 

Britain, 3 legions. 

Germany (Rhinelands), 4 legions. 

Danubian lands and Dacia, 10 legions. 

Syria and Palestine, 5 legions. 

Cappadocia, 2 legions. 

In alTthe other provinces requiring legionary troops at all (e,g. Egypt, 
Spain, Numidia, etc.), only one legion. 

Apparently in the second Christian century the greatest danger point 
seemed near the Danube, and the second greatest along the Euphrates, 
with the Rhinelands relatively more secure than earlier, when more 
legions had been stationed near them. 

The Army 327 

the Twelfth Thunderers in Syria, and of a good many others. 
The result is that each legion, largely recruited in the near-by 
provinces, has small desire for distant service ; and there is 
little love between, say, the " Twenty-first Ravagers " in 
Upper Germany and the " Sixth Ironclads " stationed along 
the Euphrates. 1 

278. The Auxiliary Cohorts: the 
Second Grand Division of the Army. 
But it is absolutely necessary to 
have mobile force, composed of 
troops of many kinds, especially 
cavalry, archers, slingers, and light 
spearmen for scouting. These men 
are often enlisted in the un-Roman- 
ized provinces, and are allowed to 
keep their native arms and discipline. 
As a rule they are organized in un- 
attached cohorts, either in " large " 
cohorts of 1000 men with ten centu- 
ries, or " small " cohorts of 480 with 

six so-called centuries. Their com- 

, . , . t( -> LIGHT-ARMED SOLDIER. 

mander is regularly a Prefect, 

commonly an officer who, like Quadratus, has graduated from 
the stern school of the centurion in a legion. 

Auxiliary cohorts are often embodied and disbanded, 
they have no such glorious history and traditions as the 
legions, but they have a distinctive name and a number. 
Quadratus was assigned to the command of a new " large " 
cohort made up of tall blonde Germans who were glad to 

1 Some legions were named for their organisers : Augustus, Claudius, 
etc. ; some for real or alleged martial qualities, "Ferrata," " Fulminata," 
" Victrix," and the like ; one, the "Alauda," from the lark's wings worn 
on the helmets ; several which were made by dividing existing legions 
were known as "Gemina," and some from their place of original recruit- 
ing, "Gallica," "Italica," etc. 

328 A Day in Old Rome 

forget their feuds with the Romans, cross the Rhine, and take 
the Emperor's pay, swearing to him the great oath of im- 
plicit military allegiance (the sacr amentum). The govern- 
ment is far too wise, however, to leave such aliens too near 
their homes. Quadratus was, therefore, promptly ordered 
to march his " Sixth Nervan " (so named in honor of the then 
Emperor Nerva) l to the Danube. 

The day the new Praefect quitted his old comrades of the 
Second Augustan he drew from the legionary chest all the 
savings from his pay, plus the sums deposited there after 
each bonus or donation wherewith the Emperors were always 
conciliating the army. He had also long since joined a self- 
help organization among the officers whereby he was to 
receive a fixed sum for his outfit whenever he received pro- 
motion. 2 He thus started upon his career as an upper officer 
a tolerably rich man. 

279. The Prsefect of the Camps and the Legate of the 
Legion. As Prsefect of the Sixth Nervan he won the good 
opinion of Trajan in both of the desperate Dacian Wars and 
then in the campaign against Parthia. As the next step, he 
was appointed by imperial patent " Prsefect of the Camps " 
the second in command of a legion, not responsible, indeed, 
for its conduct in battle, but with almost complete authority 
over its management and discipline while in its great perma- 
nent garrisons, subject only (in extreme cases) to the final 
authority of the commanding legate. 

This was as high ordinarily as even a very fortunate soldier, 
who had enlisted as a mere private, could advance. Even 

1 The centurion to whom St. Paul's custody was intrusted (Acts 
XXVII, 1) was of the " Augustan band," i.e. one of the somewhat numer- 
ous cohorts named for Augustus the special number not being given. 

2 Also we know from the by-laws of these soldiers' benefit clubs that 
every member was entitled to a fine funeral, to an allowance for travel 
money if obliged to go on a long journey, and finally to a fixed sum as 
consolation money in case he was demoted ! 

The Army 329 

as Prsefect of the Camp Quadratus was looked down upon 
socially by the six young military tribunes, scions of sena- 
torial families, who hung around the headquarters (pros- 
ton-urn), wrote verses, patronized the centurions, and boasted 
of how " they commanded the legion." But Quadratus was, 
we repeat, an extraordinarily lucky officer. Grizzled now 
and battle-scarred, he impressed Hadrian as absolutely to be 
trusted. The Emperor, therefore, raised him to the rank of 
" Legate of the Legion," which carried with it a seat in the 
Senate, and for the past few years accordingly Quadratus 
has been on the Rhine in chief command of that same Second 
Augustan where once he had " submitted to the vinestock " 
as a raw recruit. 

He has now returned to Rome to be honorably retired and 
to end his days in a luxurious villa in the hills, having en- 
joyed every honor possible in the Roman army save that of 
being Imperial Legatus over an entire province, a post or- 
dinarily combined with the command of several legions. 
It is men like Quadratus, hard and fit soldiers of absolute 
faithfulness, coolness, courage, and efficiency ; steeped in the 
traditions of the army, and obeying automatically the call 
of military duty, that have been the soul of the Roman war- 
machine. Perhaps some day there will be degeneracy in the 
camps, even as in the luxurious city. Then the perils of the 
Empire will draw nigh but not in the reign of Hadrian. 

280. Care for Veterans: Retiring; Bonuses and Land 
Grants. Few enough of Quadratus's messmates kept near 
to him in his upward career. To the average recruit, the 
most to be hoped for is that, before the end of his twenty 
years' enlistment, he can be somewhere near the rank of 
centurion. But many men learn to enjoy the military life 
even as privates, and when the time for honorable discharge 
comes, will often be glad to reenlist in picked corps of 
veterani, bronzed and hardened warriors who make invaluable 

330 A Day in Old Rome 

scouts and bodyguards for the upper officers, and who have 
quite forgotten the modes of civilian life. 

If, however, tfr ey elect to be mustered out, not merely are 
there accumulations of pay and donations given them from 
the legion's savings bank, but along with the honesta missio 
(honorable discharge) they receive either a grant of land for 
a modest farm, or a lump sum (some 3000 sesterces 
$120) to start them on a peaceful career. If they become 
sick or disabled while in service, reasonably good care is taken 
of them. In any case the constant award of honorary spears, 
pennons, and medals appeals to the soldier's vanity, and helps 
to reconcile him to a very long enlistment and an equally 
stiff discipline. 

281. Barrier Fortresses ; System of Encampments ; Flex- 
ible Battle Tactics ; Siege Warfare. Into the details of 
the Roman war machine we cannot enter. We cannot dis- 
cuss the wonderful system of barrier fortresses along the 
junction of the Rhine and Danube upon which the northern 
tribes beat in vain, nor the newly completed " Wall of Ha- 
drian " sundering peaceful and guarded Britain from the 
stark savagery of Caledonia. We cannot explain the scien- 
tific system of temporary encampments, whereby every night 
when a legion is on the march, it occupies a square of 
ground fortified by solid palisades and with every tent ia 
precisely the same spot as in the old camp of the preceding 
night a method insuring that every camp becomes prac- 
tically a fortress, almost impregnable in, case of a defeat in 
the field. We cannot visit the permanent garrison towns, 
such as Colonia Agrippina (Cologne) on the Rhine, or Vindo- 
bona (Vienna) on the Danube, where extensive cities, with 
all the paraphernalia of civilization, have grown up around the 
cantonments on the very edge of raw barbarism. 

It is still less possible to offer here a discussion of the flexi- 
ble legionary battle tactics, whereby each particular foe is 

The Army 


met with the formations most formidable to his special arms 
and weaknesses ; and of the carefully adjusted order of march 
whereby an army can move with all its baggage train through 
a hostile country defiant of any ordinary harassment and 
flank attack. We must pass over also the system of siege 
warfare, and the use of long-range casting engines a genu- 
ine artillery ; and finally the wonderfully scientific engineer- 

STORMING A BESIEGED CITY : casting engines in foreground. 

ing service, building high-roads through deserts, and throw- 
ing strong bridges ever* across such mighty streams as the 
Rhine, and on Trajan's Dacian campaigns the Danube. 
282. Limited Size of the Imperial Army : its Great Ef- 
ficiency. Two or three things about the army, however, 
call for particular comment. The size of these forces seems 
decidedly small, considering the vast extent of the Empire, 
the slow communications, the careful demilitarizing of the 
provincials, and the absence of any reserve corps or efficient 
militia. The thirty legions (5000 to 6000 men each) reckon 

332 A Day in Old Rome 

perhaps 175,000 troops of the line. The Praetorians at Rome, 
the heterogeneous and scattered auxiliary cohorts, the small 
naval force, and other armed groups at the command of the 
government, in all reckon, perhaps, as many more ; 350,000 
men, however, is a very limited number when spread out 
from Britain to the confines of Arabia and the Nile cataracts, 
although only along the Rhine, the Danube, and the Eu- 
phrates are there now enemies creating serious military 

Except at Rome, we have seen that the bulk of these troops 
is held in the frontier garrisons, with all their corps kept 
on edge in full battle efficiency. Let a frontier be in real 
peril, however, and there is no means of reenf orcing the local 
legions save by calling off other legions from posts at great 
distance. Governmental policy has not merely disarmed the 
provincials, it has systematically discouraged maintaining the 
military virtues. 1 If the frontiers are forced and the legions 
fail, the civilian population of the Empire (possibly some 
80 to 100 millions) will be nigh helpless before a Parthian 
raid or Germanic invader ; they can only call on the gods 
and the distant Emperor for aid. 2 

1 The process of demilitarizing the population went so far that Trajan 
even discouraged the organization of regular bands of firemen in cities of 
Bithynia "lest they become the prey of factions" i.e. somehow start 
a movement against the government. 

* The Roman Empire has been rightly called a "military monarchy," 
but was such only because the disarming of the civilian population and 
the extreme efficiency of the professional army put the former at the 
mercy of the latter. The imperial army and navy hardly exceeded 
350,000 men, and may have been as small as 300,000. At the time this 
book was written the United States, with a population not greatly ex- 
ceeding that of the Roman Empire, had a total of some 250,000 men in its 
standing forces (army, navy, and marine corps) not counting any organ- 
ized militia. Almost nobody would have pretended that the addition of 
some 100,000 men to this force could have rendered a "military mon- 
archy" possible in America except as very peculiar conditions favored it 
u they did in the Roman Empire. 

The Army 333 

However, as yet, the legions have not failed. The Roman 
armies, never large, but unsurpassed in quality and composed 
of highly expert soldiers steeped in martial tradition, and 
organized and commanded with scientific skill, lie as a solid 
barrier around the Mediterranean world, and in Hadrian's 
day they are holding back possible invaders by the mere ter- 
ror of their name. When one looks, marveling, upon the 
huge, luxurious, sophisticated capital, let it not be forgotten 
that Rome is imperial Rome because far away on the frontiers 
thirty brigades of iron-handed men night and day keep watch 
and ward. 


283. Apparent Authority and Importance of the Senate. 
Powerful is the army and powerful its Emperor, yet there is 
a body to which they both pay lip-service, and which still 
enjoys a prestige and moral authority that stamps itself upon 
the imagination of every man in the Roman Empire 
the " venerable Senate/' 

Theoretically the Senate shares the government with the 
Emperor, controls the state when there is a vacancy in the 
palace, selects the new ruler and bestows on him the " pro- 
consular " and " tribunician power/' the legal bases of his 
Authority. It must be consulted by him in every important 
act, and when he dies it decides whether he is to be deified as 
a god, or suffer the awful " damnation of memory " (damnatio 
memories) branding him for all time as a tyrant. It can also 
declare him suspended or deposed from office, set a price on 
his head and order the armies to refuse him obedience. Its 
formal decrees (senatiis consulta) constitute, now that the 
old public assemblies have been abandoned, the most binding 
kind of law. 

The Senate also governs directly all of those provinces 
(about hah* of the whole Empire) which do not require any 
army for defense or control. It has its own treasury, and it 
can strike copper money, although gold and silver are reserved 
to 'the Emperor, making a considerable profit on the seignor- 
age. It acts as supreme court of appeal on all cases which rise 
in the provinces under its government. By the vote of its 
members are elected all those " old Republican " magistrates 

A Debate in the Senate 835 

from consul down to quaestor (treasury supervisor) which 
carry along with the temporary glories of office the right to a 
life seat in the Senate itself making the latter practically 
a self-perpetuating body. A good Emperor swears at thfc 
beginning of his reign, " I will never put any senator to death " 
i.e. the Senate shall judge all capital charges against its 
members, even those involving treason. 

Besides these prerogatives senators alone are eligible for 
the highest military commands and the governorships of all 
the larger imperial provinces. As already stated (see p. 156), 
the senators in addition constitute the highest aristocracy; 
they must each possess at least 1,000,000 sesterces ($40,000) 
taxable property, and they enjoy all the influence that comes 
to vested prestige and wealth in an age that cringes to titles 
and fortunes. On this showing, the 600 senators apparently 
constitute the most powerful organ in the government. 

284. Actual Weakness of the Senate. Unfortunately 
much of this brave showing is only a glittering mask. The 
Senate has not one swordsman in Rome or in any of its prov- 
inces to obey the summons, " Resist the Emperor and his 
Praetorians." It ordinarily has to stand helpless while the 
army decides who is to be the next Caesar in case of a con- 
tested succession. 

After Caligula's murder in 41 A.D. the Conscript Fathers 
debated earnestly : " Shall we restore the Republic ? If not 
that, which aspiring nobleman can we elect as Emperor?" 
Meantime, the Praetorians, pillaging the palace, found the 
terrified and demoralized Claudius hiding in a closet ; they 
dragged him forth and discovered a survivor of the Caesars 
whose dynasty they greatly wished to perpetuate. " Ave 
Imperator!" rang their shout. Soon the senators were in- 
formed that their debates were unnecessary Claudius was 
being proclaimed in the Praetorian Camp. The Fathers 
made haste to bestow on Claudius full imperial powers and to 

S36 A Day in Old Rome 

congratulate him on his succession. Nobody doubted after 
that where the real power lay. 

Besides all this, without mentioning the army, the Emperor 
has every senator personally within his grasp. He can strike 
any member from the album (Senate List) by use of his irre- 
sponsible Censorial Power. Through that same power he can 
appoint any favorite to the order by his mere fiat. In the 
elections held within the Senate, he can control the choice 
for any office by announcing" that he favors the aspirations of 
such and such a friend ; the " Candidates of Csesar " are 
always elected. In the debates it is a bold senator who dares 
to face the unpopularity of opposing the Emperor's sugges- 
tions ; * and once let the monarch indicate the slightest wish, 
a whole pack of servile favor-seekers will instantly champion 
the proposition with fervent loyalty. Finally by his " tribuni- 
cian authority " the Emperor caii veto any senatorial pro- 
posal which he dislikes. The power of the " venerable 
Senate " seems, therefore, to have vanished in thin air. 

285. Amount of Power Left to the Senate. This last is 
not quite true, however. The Caesars do not, as yet, repre- 
sent an unvarnished despotism ; they need a cover for their 
autocracy, 2 and they have to leave to the Senate a certain 
show of power. No new Emperor's throne furthermore is 
secure against pretenders until, after the army has proclaimed 
him, the Senate has confirmed him, and no Emperor likes to 
feel that his sole refuge is with the irresponsible swordsmen. 

1 Bad Emperors, e.g. Domitian, made it a practice to speak first in the 
Curia ; any senator who later opposed their opinions was liable to charges 
of disloyalty. If, however, an Emperor spoke last he also left the ground- 
lings miserable because they might unwittingly have opposed him. 

*The last avowedly constitutional "Princeps" was Alexander 
Severus (murdered 235 A.D.) ; then followed the military monarchy. 
Aurelian (270-275 A.D.) took on practically all the trappings of a despot, 
and with Diocletian (284 A.D.) the absolute monarchy existed without 

A Debate in the Senate 337 

Besides all this, the moral prestige of the Senate is still so 
great that even a Nero or a Domitian hesitates to flout that 
famous body too openly. Finally, be it said, the task of 
governing the enormous Empire is a tremendous burden. 
A reasonable monarch is glad enough to throw upon the 
Senate a great many problems over which the " Fathers " 
can exhaust their eloquence and which they probably can 
settle quite as wisely as he. If they fail and the case is 
then dutifully referred back to " Csesar," his own importance 
becomes all the greater. If they succeed, he gains a reputa- 
tion for moderation and liberality. The senators, on their 
part, have long since ceased to dream of restoring the old 
Republic. Since the accession of Nerva, 96 A.D., an era of 
good feeling and equilibrium on the whole has existed. The 
Senate therefore still vaunts itself as a coordinate branch of 
the Roman government. 

286. Organization and Procedure of the Senate. The 
Senate of the Empire exists in form and procedure very like 
its predecessor under the Republic. Its debates are the talk 
of the capital and are duly reported in the Acta Diurna ; 
and at present, with Hadrian out of the city, its supreme pre- 
siding officers, the two consuls, affect to be the most powerful 
personages in Rome, although some of the great permanent 
ministers on the Palatine, and especially the Praetorian Pre- 
fect, have firm doubts on the subject. 

When Publius Junius Calvus is compelled to attend sessions 
of the Senate, he has ordinarily been informed a couple of 
days in advance by a motor of one of the consuls bringing a 
personal notice to his home, although urgent meetings can be 
summoned on much shorter notice merely by sending forth a 
crier. There is no fixed quorum for the Senate; although 
there are 600 lawful members, many of these are high govern- 
ment officials absent in the provinces, others are retired, 
elderly dignitaries very loath to quit their luxurious ease in 

338 A Day in Old Rome 

their Etruscan or Campanian villas. Since the post of sena- 
tor is ordinarily for life, the body contains an undue propor- 
tion of superannuated, doddering old men who will only ap- 
pear on great occasions. 

Sessions can thus be held with only a very thin number, 
say fifty, 1 although if the gathering is disgracefully small, 
those attending can shout to the presiding officer, " Numeral 
Numeral " (" Take the number ! ") and insist on adjournment 
until the consul's tipstaffs and bailiffs have rounded up a 
respectable fraction. On this day in question, however, there 
is no danger of a slim attendance. Every member in Rome 
is sure to be present, including certain invalids who have to be 
helped out of their litters and led inside by their freedmen. 

Sextus Annius Pedius, ex-proconsul of Asia has been im- 
peached by Publius Calvus and a fellow senator, Titus 
Volusius Atilius, for gross extortion and malfeasance in his 
government. The ease has been referred to the Senate by 
Hadrian as lying within its special competence. Pedius is of 
the highest aristocracy, but like most great men has made 
plenty of enemies. Every possible social influence has been 
mobilized for and against him. A great state trial, with an 
abundance of soaring oratory is consequently in prospect. 
Every senator is in his element. 

287. The Curia (Senate House) and Its Arrangement of 
Benches. On days when the Senate convenes, the clients 
can stream into the empty atria of their noble patrons, col- 
lect their money doles and depart the patrons themselves 
have set off at first dawn for the council, accompanied very 
probably (if it is not summertime) by link-boys to guide them 
through the still darkened streets. They gather thus at 
prima luce in the rebuilt Curia at the Forum, although sessions 
can be held in almost any other duly consecrated spot, and 

1 The law required, however, a mirn'mnTn of certain specified numbers 
for the passing of various important kinds of decrees. 

A Debate in the Senate 339 

Pompey built a special Curia near his own mansion in the 
Campus Martius for use when he wished to deliberate with 
the Fathers. 1 

The Curia Julia has a magnificent hall with tiers of com- 
fortable and highly carved benches (subsellia) Carving in a 
semi-circle not unlike the legislative chambers of other times. 
The six hundred senators sit fairly close together, so that the 
debates can be in easy voice. At the entrance the consuls' 
viatores and lictors check off the Fathers entering to exclude 
interlopers, but there is no real secrecy. The doors are 
numerous and stand wide, and a curious crowd is permitted 
to linger around them ; especially are the young sons of a 
good many senators seen there, eagerly following all the pro- 
ceedings wherein they hope soon to have a part. (See p. 190.) 

Facing the benches rises a low dais whereon is a line of 
curule chairs for the consuls and praetors, also a long solid 
settee whereon ten of the younger senators sit down solemnly 
together. These ten are the tribunes of the Plebs, shorn 
now of nearly all their ancient authority, but still maintain- 
ing the " shadow of a great name," a name surviving from 
the time when, as in the days of such personages as Gaius 
Gracchus, a tribune could be mightier than a consul. 

288. The Gathering of the Senators. The Fathers drop 
into their seats. No law adjusts their precedence, but eti- 
quette gives the front row to the ex-consuls, the next banks 
to the ex-prsetors, behind them the former sediles, tribunes, 
and quaestors with the pedani 2 (senators who have never 
held elective office) modestly in the rear. The defendant 

1 He did this because as holder of the military power it was unlawful 
for fri to come inside the consecrated city limits (pomerium) ; so he 
built a suburban Senate House outside of these confines. 

1 So called because, being last on the Senate list, and seldom called 
upon to speak, they could express themselves with their "feet" only 
i.e. by voting when they walked out in divisions of the house. 

340 A Day in Old Rome 

Pedius attended by several distinguished senators, his rela- 
tives, all clad in the gray togas of distress and mourning, and 
also by his two advocates both in conventional white, take 
seats in the front benches. As they do this it is noted as of 
ominous significance that several ex-consuls, who had come 
in first, promptly shift to the other side of the hall. 

At the center of the platform is observed a majestic, gilded 
statue of Victory, with expanded wings, flowing robes, stand- 
ing upon a globe, and stretching forth a laurel crown. 1 Be- 
fore it, upon a little altar, a few coals are smoking. Presently 
a door at the side of the platform opens, and a lictor signs 
with his fasces. The chatter across the now crowded hall 
ceases instantly ; all the toga-clad figures rise together, while 
the presiding consul, Gaius Juventius Varus, 2 leads in the 
array of magistrates, each in the ornate toga prsetexta. 

289. Opening the Session : Taking the Auspices. 
Gravely this official company seats itself in the curule chairs ; 
gravely Varus casts a handful of incense upon the altar before 
the Victory, and a cloud of fragrance fills the hall. Then 
Varus, a tall and very majestic figure, signs to the senators ; 
they also are seated, next his voice sounds clearly: " Bring 
forth the chickens!" 

Not a lip twitches in all that sedate audience as two attend- 
ants appear upon the platform setting down a small coop con- 
taining a few barnyard fowls. The consul rises and stands 
beside them; next to him takes station an elderly senator 
also wearing the preetexta and holding a staff with a pecul- 

1 Under the later Empire this statue (originally set up by Augustus) 
came to be looked upon as the "Palladium" of Rome and its removal 
from the Senate House in 384 A.D. by Valentinian the Second, despite 
vigorous protests by the pagan party, was looked upon as an official 
announcement of the triumph of Christianity. 

* The other consul in 134 A.D. was Gaius Julius Servianius. The con- 
suls would settle as to their presidency from day to day either by mutual 
agreement* by taking turns in rotation, or by the casting of lots. 

A Debate in the Senate 


iarly shaped spiral head, a lituus the badge of office of an 
augur, lawfully entitled to proclaim the will of the gods. In a 
dead hush the servitors pass a small dish of grain to the consul 
who carefully scatters the grain within easy reach of the 
chickens. The latter, carefully starved since yesterday, 
snap up the grains eagerly. 
They even devour so fast 
that the wheat drops from 
their bills, a most excellent 
sign. The augur bends for- 
ward intently, watching 
their action, then motions 
with his staff : " There is no 
evil sight nor sound ! " he an- 
nounces in solemn formula. 

A mutter of relaxation 
passes around the Senate. 
The servitors carry out the 
chicken coop. The consul 
shakes his great draperies 
around him with studied dignity and turns to the waiting 
assembly. " Affairs divine " have been attended to ; " af- 
fairs human " can now begin. 

290. Presentation of Routine Business : Taking a Formal 
Vote. Even under the Empire it is a glorious thing to be 
consul, with the twelve lictors, the temporary colleagueship 
with the Emperor, and the right to preside over the most 
magnificent council in the world. Varus carries himself with 
the dignity of a nobleman who has enjoyed a long career in 
the Senate and now is at the summit of his aspirations. 
Every tradition of the ancient body has been cherished ; and 
the solemn forms still differ little from those in the great 
conclave that piloted the overthrow of Carthage. 

The chief business of the day is the trial of Pedius, but a 


342 A Day in Old Rome 

certain lesser matter demands prior disposition. The consul 
has received a dispatch from the propraetor of Sicily (a 
" senatorial " province) asking if he can be empowered to 
remit the taxes of certain peasants near Agrigentum, whose 
crops have suffered from the blight. Varus begins with the 
time-honored formula, " That it may be well and fortunate to 
the Roman people, the Quirites, we refer this thing to you, 
patres conscriptL" Then in well-chosen words he gives the 
substance of the governor's request, and reads certain corre- 
spondence explaining the plight of the peasants ; having thus 
finished his relatio the " presentation of the problem " 
he ends with another formula, " What is it your pleasure to 
do concerning this matter ?" 

If the business be contentious, now might begin a vigorous 
debate ; but the governor's request, based on wise policy, is 
not worth questioning and almost everybody wants to pro- 
ceed to the trial. The consul, therefore, after a pause, de- 
mands, " Is it your will to grant this thing ? Let then all the 
Conscript Fathers favoring pass to the right ! " 

One garrulous old senator anxious for a chance to speak, 
indeed begins shouting "Consuls! Conside!" (" Take coun- 
sel 1 " i.e. start a debate.) If many others join him, Varus 
can be forced to permit a long-winded discussion ; but the 
troublemaker is without a second. The senators with one 
accord seem rising and passing to the right side of the Curia. 
Nobody ventures to go to the left. The motion thus carries 
unanimously. The company resume their seats; then all 
eyes are again upon the consul when with clear voice he com- 
mands : " Let the accusers of Sextus Annius Pedius stand 

291. Presenting an Impeachment at a Senate Trial. 
Publius Calvus rises from the front benches opposite the 
defendant, allows the many folds of his toga to fall magnifi- 
cently around him, thrusting them back just enough to reveal 

A Debate in the Senate 343 

the purple laticlave running down his tunic, and carefully 
adjusts a ring so its great emerald will give precisely the cor- 
rect flash as he gestures. Directly behind him, inconspicu- 
ously garbed stands a favorite freedman, avowedly to pass 
him papyri and tablets which he will read, but really quite as 
much to whisper, " Drop your tones ! " " Speak louder 1" 
or " Not so shrill I" and like promptings as the oration pro- 
gresses. 1 

The Senate, of course, cannot be expected to put in weary 
days listening to intricate and sordid testimony. All this 
has been taken before a special board of judges, and on their 
report there is no real doubt of Pedius's guilt. He has taken 
a bribe of 300,000 sesterces ($12,000) to banish a Roman 
eques from his province and has put seven less-protected 
provincials, friends of this eques, to death ; worse still, he 
has taken still another bribe of 700,000 sesterces ($28,000) 
for committing the unspeakable outrage of causing yet 
a second eques to be first beaten with rods, next hustled 
off to the mines, then actually strangled in prison. The 
prominent provincials from Asia have, therefore, presented 
an absolute case against their evil ex-governor. The lesser 
culprits have mostly confessed and received appropriate 
penalties and the only question really before the Senate 
is fixing the punishment of Pedius. 

He is a great noble with great connections. Ought a sena- 
tor who has held the consulship be banished and ruined even 
if he has misgoverned his province, taken bribes and done to 
death an eques one of those upstart half-nobles whom 
every true senator should scorn? Pedius does not lack 
friends who have told him to brazen it out, and that no severe 

1 This trial follows closely the account of the prosecution of Marius 
Priscus, proconsul of Africa, before the Senate by Pliny the Younger and 
Tacitus the historian ; but in Priscus's trial the mere oratory actually 
took three whole days ! (See Pliny the Younger : Book II, 11.) 

344 A Day in Old Rome 

penalty can befall him ; and he glares defiantly across to Cal- 
vus as the latter begins his argument. 

292. The Water Clocks ; Methods of a Prosecutor ; Ap- 
plause in the Senate. Just as the chief prosecutor com- 
mences, the servitors reappear and set close beside him a large 
glass vessel upon a wooden stand, perforated to empty slowly 
into a second vessel beneath, and when thus emptied the 
upper container is promptly refilled. Calvus has been in- 
formed he can have " only four water clocks " (about two 
hours) an outrageously insufficient number in his opinion, 
when many an advocate can get twelve but time must be 
given the other orators and after that the Senate must discuss 
and vote. 

Speedily Calvus warms to his task, and in long periods of 
sonorous Latin his voice resounds through the Curia. He 
delights to expand upon the enormity of the crime of putting 
to death not a mere provincial, not a simple Roman plebeian, 
but a Roman eques. His speech abounds with elegant and 
apparently impromptu allusions, metaphors and similes 
duly practiced half a month before. He goes out of his way 
to pay an extended and fulsome compliment to the benignity 
and liberality of the Emperor in condescending to let the 
Senate settle the issue. Words at length almost fail him whfcn 
he calls on the Fathers in the name of Justice, Virtue, 
Heavenly Vengeance, and all the other guardian deities of 
the state to punish the hideous misdeeds of such a criminal as 

As he proceeds the Senate kindles at his eloquence. First 
his personal friends who are sitting directly behind him begin 
to shout " Euge!" and " Sophos!" Then the applause re- 
echoes from all over the hall. Presently the occupants of the 
curule chairs on the platform begin to clap, the consul half 
rises from his seat as if transported by the oratory, and even 
Pedius/s own advocates politely join in that applause which 

A Debate in the Senate 345 

Calvus is professionally bound to return with interest as soon 
as they begin to speak in turn. 

Soon, all too soon, for the orator, and for those senators 
who love " the good old times," when an advocate could 
thunder all day long, the four water clocks are exhausted. 
Calvus subsides, to be immediately surrounded by his friends 
who compare his efforts to those of Cato, Hortensius, Cicero, 
and such later masters as Cornelius Tacitus ; while the freed- 
man immediately speeds off to inform Gratia of the " woixder- 
ful triumph " of her husband a triumph of oratory, what- 
ever be the actual verdict. 

293. Speech for the Defendant: Methods of a Profes- 
sional Advocate. After order is restored a grave old senator 
Quintus Saturius arises to answer the prosecutor. He 
is a professional advocate of fame, but evil report has it that 
in his youth under Domitian he was a delator (professional 
accuser), and won a fortune by prosecuting the innocent vic- 
tims of that bad Emperor's disfavor. Since then he has never 
been squeamish in accepting doubtful causes. The law only 
allows him 10,000 sesterces ($400) as the fee from each 
legal client, but the latter has plenty of indirect means of 
showing his " gratitude," and Saturius's wealth now is enor- 
mous. This morning he has carefully smeared eye-salve 
above his left eye a token that he is to speak for the defend- 
ant, not over the right as if for the plaintiff. His toga also 
floats in billowy folds, his hands flash with costly rings, and 
his powerful voice soon booms through the Curia. 

Saturius does not waste time denying that many of Pedius's 
misdeeds have been proved, but he praises at great length his 
client's " glorious ancestry " and distinguished social con- 
nections. As for the accusations, what if he did abuse his 
office ? Was a member of the great house of the Annii to be 
held down to the sordid rules befitting mere plebeians and 
f reedmen ? What if an eques had been wrongfully done to 


A Day in Old Rome 

A Debate in the Senate 347 

death? Was not the fellow by birth a Phrygian who had 
gained first citizenship and then the " narrow-stripe " merely 
by the use of his wits? How could so great a man as the 
Proconsul of Asia be expected to live on a beggarly salary of 
1,000,000 sesterces ($40,000) ? 

At this point Saturius's voice begins in fact to tremble with 
pathos. How can the Conscript Fathers bring themselves 
to disgrace all the defendant's distinguished relatives who just 
now are sitting behind him in the gray togas of public mourn- 
ing ? Think of his distressed wife whose father and all three 
uncles were at least praetors ! Think of his brother who had 
been killed bravely fighting the Parthians ! Think of his two 
sons whose public careers would be blighted by the disgrace 
of their father ! Think finally of the Senate itself what 
contempt upon the " Venerable Order " if one of its most 
prominent members should be ruined on the testimony of 
mere provincials and upstarts ! etc., etc. 

294. Concluding Speeches; Interrupting Shouts; Per- 
sonal Invectives. Saturius, ere concluding, works himself 
into a fine passion. He also gets sallies of applause mostly 
from the self -same men who have just cheered Calvus. But 
at some of his assertions there are murmurs of dissent, and 
even open shouts such as " Drop that argument ! " " Don't 
insult our intelligence!" Finally, however, he sits down, 
having exhausted his four water clocks. More cheers, more 
congratulations, everybody swears to his neighbor the day is 
proving an intellectual feast. 

The consul proclaims an interim; and the Conscript 
Fathers adjourn to stretch their limbs, snatch a hasty colla- 
tion provided by their attendants and discuss the arguments. 
Then all resume when Marcus Petreius, Pedius's junior advo- 
cate, continues for the defense. The hostile attitude of the 
Senate has impressed the defendant's counsel, and Petreius 
enters into an elaborate appeal for mercy, with many fine 

348 A Day in Old Rome 

invocations of the " Divine Clemency," and reminders of 
how any senator might some day find himself in Pedius's 
horrid predicament. Petreius is allowed " less water " than 
Saturius ; he gets considerable applause, however, when he 
finishes, but knowing members shake their heads : " They 
cheer his oratory and not his cause/' 

In fine mettle therefore Titus Atilius, Calvus's associate, 
next sums up for the prosecution. Atilius is a relatively 
young man, as yet only an ex-qusestor; and to-day is his 
glorious opportunity. Carried away on a flood of invective, 
he allows himself, as is permitted by usage, to cover not 
merely Pedius but even Pedius's advocate with a storm of 
bitter personalities. When he thunders against Saturius's 
sycophantic career there are wild shouts of applause from all 
over the Curia ; and more applause follows when he ridicules 
certain physical infirmities of the miserable defendant. 1 
Pedius rises with supplicatory gestures and appeals loudly 
to the ten tribunes, " Oh, very noble tribunes protect me ! " 
but the ten sit stolid and silent upon their bench and he 
subsides with blenching cheeks. His advocates, exchanging 
knowing glances, are seen to be gathering up their tablets. 

295. Taking the Opinion of the Senate. At last Atilius's 
" water " has likewise ended. Amid another whirlwind of 
applause and rush of congratulating friends he takes his seat. 
The consul Varus rises with extreme dignity, and beckons 
with his hand. Every senator instantly is tense and silent. 

" We do now/' proclaims Varus, " take the opinions (sen- 
tentice) of the Conscript Fathers concerning that which it 
befits should be done in the case of Sextus Annius Pedius 
this day arraigned and tried. You have heard his accusers 
and his advocates. I shall call the album of the Senate/' 

1 Any student interested in the coarse and violent personalities per- 
missible in speeches before the Senate, should read Cicero's speech 
" Against Piso." 

A Debate in the Senate 349 

He holds up tablets whereon are listed the senators in order of 
official rank and precedence; then turns to the members 
seated directly before him, the magistrates-elect for the en- 
suing year, summoning first the senior consul designate, 
Appius Lupercus : 

" Die, Apple Luperce!" 

Appius Lupercus, an elderly aristocrat, the head of an 
ancient family, rises amid a portentous hush. The " right 
to speak first," possessed by the Emperor when present, is 
invaluable. All the orators for either side have really 
aimed their best arguments toward Lupercus, knowing his 
prerogative, but his " cold looks " toward Pedius have already 
fallen as ice upon the friends of the defendant. His voice 
now carries through the expectant Curia. 

" Conscript Fathers : It is true that Sextus Pedius is a 
man of exalted birth ; the more shame, therefore, that he has 
disgraced the name of a darissimus of the Venerable Senate. 
It is true his victims were either provincials or citizens of 
provincial origin : the law is impartial, the Roman Empire 
has been established upon the inflexible rule of ' piety ' giving 
alike to gods and to men that which is lawfully their due. If 
he has outraged provincials the case is clear ; long ago the 
Emperor Tiberius expressed the ruling policy when he said, 
' A good shepherd shears his sheep but does not flay them,' 
If Pedius has also outraged citizens, much more equites, 
wherein lies the boast ' Civis Romanus sum! ', if these men, 
whatever their original birth, cannot demand lawful ven- 
geance at our hands ? 

" My opinion, therefore, is this : let the defendant's ill- 
gotten bribes be confiscated to the treasury, and let Pedius 
himself be banished from Rome, and Italy ; let his lesser 
confederates be banished from Rome, from Italy, and also 
from the Province of Asia. Since also Publius Calvus and 
Titus Atilius have pleaded the cause of the provincials with 

350 A Day in Old Rome 

diligence and fearlessness, let them receive the thanks of the 
Senate. Such is my opinion !" 

A great murmur rises applause with some shouts of dis- 
sent. " Hangman!" " Butcher!" rise from the little knot 
of Pedius's relatives. Then Varus calls on the second consul 
designate, Atticus, who, rising stiffly, says with clear voice, " I 
agree with the most noble Lupercus," and promptly takes his 

One by one the ex-consuls, each summoned by turn, an- 
nounce that they also agree with Lupercus, until one cynical 
old aristocrat, the ex-consul Gavius, notorious for his own 
sensual life and the manner whereby he enriched himself in 
Africa, yet powerful through his vast wealth and influential 
connections, announces that he is confident the Senate should 
show mercy. " Let Pedius disgorge the money and forfeit 
the priesthood of Mars which he holds that will be punish- 
ment enough. A good lesson has been taught and the unfor- 
tunate man has been disgraced enough already." 

296. An Uproar in the Senate: an "Altercation." 
Instantly the Senate is in an uproar. The short-hand report- 
ers l can hardly take down all the interrupting shouts that are 
tossed back and forth : " How now, Marcus JSmilius Gavius, 
will you let such a scoundrel go?" " What are those pro- 
vincials but scum anyway ! " etc., etc. A violent " alter- 
cation " follows, several senators rising and demanding that 
Gavius explain himself. The old reprobate however cleverly 
stands his ground, and is vigorously cheered by many who will 
not actually support his proposal. 

At last the house cools down. The taking of the opinion 
now proceeds among the praetors-designate and the ex-prse- 

1 Short-hand reports of the Senate meetings were taken, and seemingly 
embodied everything said, including even the applause and the unfriendly 
interruptions. We do not know, however, whether they were taken by 
senators, or by reporters brought in for the purpose. 

A Debate in the Senate 851 

tors. No senator can speak twice, but each man, when on 
his feet, has great liberty of action several of the younger 
men half ironically support Gavius, and one senator earns 
unpopularity by insisting on his right of the floor and calling 
attention to the embezzlements reported in the African 
municipality of Utica a matter quite beside the question. 
Two or three long and eloquent speeches are delivered in 
favor of Lupercus's stern proposal. It is growing late and 
nobody wants to call on the ex-sediles and other junior sena- 
tors, 1 and cries are rising, " Divide! Divide!" 

297. Taking a Vote of the Senate. A Sentence of Banish- 
ment. Varus again rises, " Conscript Fathers : you have 
heard the opinions of these very noble men of consular and 
praetorian rank. Two propositions are before you. Those 
who favor the penalties for Sextus Pedius proposed by Appius 
Lupercus let them walk to the right ! Those the lesser pen- 
alty proposed by Marcus Gavius to the left." 

The hundreds of togas rise together. Gavius is not without 
a certain minority of supporters who start with him to the 
left, but most of these, seeing how many ex-consuls of birth 
and character are following Lupercus, desert Gavius, who is 
left with only a trifling band around him. There is no need 
for Varus to count the result. Even while the Senate is 
dividing the luckless Pedius, with his kinsmen and advocates, 
is seen gliding through a side exit. It is the defendant's right 
thus to anticipate sentence and to slip away with as little 
ignominy as possible into exile. 

At a word from the consul the senators return to their seats. 
The long shadows of evening are stretching through the doors 
of the Curia, as Varus announces that Sextus Pedius having 
been convicted of high crimes is banished from Rome and 

1 Apparently men not of prtorian rank rather seldom got the floor, 
although in highly important cases the presiding officer had to call for 
sententios down through the ex-qustors. 

852 A Day in Old Rome 

from Italy. He must quit the city to-morrow. He must quit 
Italy in twenty days. Should he tarry or return he will be 
" cut off from fire and water/' and dealt with " after the 
ancient custom " i.e. he will be scourged with his head in 
a forked stake, then sewed in a bag with a cock, a dog, and 
a viper, and flung into the sea. 

Everybody is anxious to be gone. In the great mansions 
six hundred expensive cooks are fuming over the delay to six 
hundred expensive dinners. The terrible fate of Pedius will 
make talk for all Rome through ten days. Varus raises his 
hand and at length pronounces the sonorous ancient formula, 
" Nihil ws moramur, patres conscripti " " We detain you 
no longer, Conscript Fathers." 

Publius Calvus and Titus Atilius are escorted homeward 
by groups of fellow senators as if they were triumphant gen- 
erals. Their skill, eloquence, pathos, and legal learning are 
praised to the skies. Each is assured that " he has rendered 
himself and his friends immortal!" Each to-morrow will 
begin rewriting his speech, introducing many fine arguments 
which he has had no time to utter. 1 These will be embalmed 
in his published works which will be presumably carried some 
day, tied to poles, in a conspicuous place in his funeral 

So ends a typical meeting of the Senate under the Empire ; 
noble forms, much dignity, a perfect river of eloquence, a 
judicial decision in this case conforming with justice, but 
handling no great issues of diplomacy, high finance, or peace 
or war. Already Pedius's friends are consoling him, as he 
drearily prepares to retire to Macedonia: " In a few years 
at worst we can get your pardon from the Emperor." 

1 As did, of course, Cicero in his " Orations against Verres," and in 
other orations. 





298. Roman Court Procedure Highly Scientific. If Publius 
Calvus does not have to attend the Senate, two places will 
assuredly devour a great part of his normal day the court- 
house and the public baths. Even if he is not plaintiff, de- 
fendant, or witness, like every man of his class he delights 
in listening to oratory, and etiquette requires that, whenever 
one of his numerous friends argues a case, he, with as many 
other senators and equites as possible should sit in the front 
of the audience, to " lend their distinguished influence," to 
lead the salvos of applause, and even to stand up conspicu- 
ously behind the orator at critical points hi his argument. 

Roman courts are not like the Athenian dicasteries, huge 
juries of many hundreds, 1 with tumultuous appeals from the 
letter of the law to the emotions of the members. Perse lal 
influence has its part, but everything is regulated, orderly, 
scientific. Cases which do not involve the safety of the state 
or the fate of distinguished personages are usually argued 
coldly, and with a nice attention to technicalities. Your 
Roman jurisconsult (expert in the law) is as much superior 
to an Athenian in developing the science of formal justice, as 
another Athenian might be to a Roman, in breathing life into 
chiseled marble. The administration of law is intricate. 
There are courts behind courts, with final appeal either to 

i See "A Day in Old Athens," p. 135. 


354 A Day in Old Rome 

the Senate (as we have just seen) or to the Emperor. 1 The 
" law's delays " are perfectly well understood by adroit advo- 
cates ; and Martial records a case that took twenty years 
while dragging through three successive courts to the ruin 
of both sets of litigants. 

299. The Great Tribunals in the Basilicas. If we visit 
the great basilicas, we find two kinds of tribunals steadily 
functioning. For much civil business there is the great 
" Court of the Centumviri," a board not of " One Hundred " 
but actually of one hundred and eighty distinguished citi- 
zens, who sit sometimes all together, sometimes divided into 
four groups for conducting trials simultaneously. Their 
stronghold is the Basilica Julia. It is a great honor to argue 
before the Centumviri, and every advocate exhausts his 
wiles to induce the grave judges to pay him the highest com- 
pliment (as they did to Pliny the Younger) by " suddenly 
leaping to their feet and applauding him as if they could not 
help themselves." 

The most of the higher litigation, however, goes before 
judices. A judex may be one of the great panel of 4000 
citizens, senators, equites, and plebeians of substance who 
can be called upon to serve as a kind of jury for ordinary 
trials of importance. The size of such a jury depends on the 
nature of the case as provided by statute, you can have 
from 32 members up to a full 100. There is a high judge 
over the entire body, either the praetor, or a professional 
expert in the law, the judex quoestionis, who controls the 
presentation of evidence and the strictly technical parts of 
the trial. 

1 Very few civil cases involving merely private rights would be heard 
by the Emperor, although they might by his deputy, the Praetorian 
Prsefect. Claudius sometimes seems to have sat on the tribunal, out of 
a pedantic sense of duty, but often falling asleep until the advocates 
bawled " O Caesar! " loudly enough to wake him. 

The Courts and the Baths 355 

After the evidence has been submitted, orally or in writing, 
and the orators have exhausted themselves, the jurors take 
small wax-covered tablets and vote, each man marking simply 
letters : A = absoho, "Not guilty," C = Condemno, "Guilty," 
N.L. = Non Liquet, "No verdict." A bare majority can 
either acquit or condemn, but, of course, no man is condemned 
on a plurality, and a tie means acquittal. If " No verdict " 
is the decision, the case can still go to another trial. Roman 
juries, therefore, do not have to be locked up for days to com- 
pel them to agree. 

Jlowever, this jury system is often inconvenient and does 
not adapt itself to that very technical justice in which the 
Roman jurisconsults increasingly delight. More and more 
cases are being tried by a single judex, or a small bench of jiir 
dices, men highly trained in the law, and especially appointed 
by the praetor or other high official, to investigate a given 
case and report their findings. Under the later Empire the 
large juries will disappear altogether, and a few professional 
judges will become arbiters alike of the law and the evidence 
an excellent system from the standpoint of scientific juris- 
prudence, but not so excellent if these judges become corrupt, 
pliable, or subject to class prejudices. 

300. Great Stress on Advocacy. Whatever the tribunal 
may be, great is the stress laid on the arts of the advocate. 
Calvus has served a long probation arguing in the basilicas 
before his day of glory came in the Senate. All the young 
Ciceros in the rhetoric schools dream of the hour when they 
can stand in flowing togas before the high raised platform of 
the judices, wave their arms, throw out their voices, and plead 
the cause of some widow, or arraign some embezzler or extor- 
tioner. The mere fact that senatorial speeches have to be 
extremely careful, lest they trench upon imperial prerogative, 
puts a greater premium upon private argument in the courts 
where usually " Caesar " has no interests. 

356 A Day in Old Rome 

The rewards of successful eloquence are great ; 1 and if the 
legal fees are small, rich clients, at least, never fail with big 
New Year's presents, and with legacies in their wills. Besides 
there are no governmental prosecuting attorneys. Criminal 
actions can be started by any citizen against any possible 
offender. To reward such zeal, a good part of the fines or 
confiscated property of convicted criminals goes to the self- 
appointed prosecutor. It is thus easy to see how, under 
Tiberius, Nero, and Domitian, the delators (" professional ac- 
cusers ") grew fat prosecuting wealthy senators for " trea- 
son." These good days for the profession seem over, but the 
incomes of certain of the leading advocates are princely, 
some almost vying with those of the earlier Vibius Crispus 
and Epirius Marcellus, who had over 200,000,000 ses- 
terces ($8,000,000) apiece. 

301. Cheap Pettifogging Lawyers. On the other hand 
Rome is infested with starving pettifoggers, pretentious 
wretches, sleeping in dirty tenements, and with hardly 
decent toga to wear when they argue on petty cases in the 
prefect's court. Sometimes they get a better class of client, 
hire a good robe and ring to wear at the trial, and win the 
case in the Basilica. Their client will very likely decorate 
the stairs to then* tenement with palm leaves, but as the only 
fee 2 send them a quantity of uncertain edibles "a dried- 
up ham, a jar of sprats, some veteran onions, or five flagons 

1 " Eloquence " was looked upon as indispensable for everybody expect- 
ing any kind of a public career. Even in the army there was much 
speech-making prior to a pitched battle. Tacitus speaks of how an army 
was so utterly surprised that it's general "could neither harangue his 
men nor draw them up in battle array" two operations apparently 
equally necessary. (Tacitus, " History," iv, 33.) 

1 litigants were required by law to take oath that before the trial 
they had not promised any sum to their advocates or entered into any 
bargain with them. After the trial they were "allowed" to "offer" 
their lawyers not over 10,000 sesterces if they wished. 

The Courts and the Baths 357 

of [very cheap] wine that has just sailed down the Tiber I" 
If any money is actually paid, lucky the advocate who does 
not have to split his fee with some agent who has secured the 
case for him 1 

302. Character Witnesses ; Torture of Slave Witnesses. 
One thing more concerning these trials must be noted: 
the testimony of Roman citizens carries much greater weight 
than that of aliens, and the unreliability of Grseco-Levantines 
is notorious. Freeborn men, Roman or v provincial, testify 
under oath. Only accusers have the right to compel the 
attendance of unwilling witnesses, but the defense can bring 
not merely voluntary witnesses to the facts, but can present 
as many as ten laudatoreSj character witnesses, and if men of 
high standing are vigorous in their friends' praises, their 
opinions will offset very many ugly facts in the testimony. 

Frequently enough, however, the statements of slaves have 
to be taken. These wretches, having little better status 
before the law than animals, can only testify under torture. 
No master, nevertheless, except in cases of treason, can ordi- 
narily be compelled to let his slaves testify against him, but it 
is assumed that torture is necessary if a master voluntarily 
offers his slave as witness, for what slave would dare 
uncompelled to say anything unwelcome to his master in 
view of the terrific flogging waiting after he gets home ? The 
situation in short as to slave testimony is substantially as in 
Athens. 1 This use of the rack and flogging post is one of the 
worst blots upon the highly scientific and usually reasonable 
and humane judicial system of Rome. 

303. Written Evidence ; High Development of the Advo- 
cate's Art. On the other hand much weight is given to 
reliable written evidence. Public documents from the record 
office, and the careful entries on bankers' ledgers are contin- 

i See "A Day in Old Athens," p. 138. 

358 A Day in Old Rome 

ually being introduced as testimony. Much of the forensic 
oratory also is of a high order. The rhetoric schools have 
not taught their better pupils in vain ; despite much silly 
display, " appeals to the emotions," and artificiality, the art 
of advocacy has never completely lost touch with the promo- 
tion of justice ; and usually the verdict goes still to him who 
best meets Cato the Elder's pungent definition of the true 
orator, vir bonus, dicenda peritus (" the good man versed 
in the art of speech "), and who recalls that great republi- 
can's classic injunction for all advocates rem tene, verba 
sequerdur (" Grasp the subject and the words will follow"). 1 

In all matters not touching certain high interests the Roman 
courts are perhaps as disinterested and clean as human tri- 
bunals can well be, and the average judex is charged with a 
passionate desire to do that which is formally right. In the 
courts the spirit of Rome is often to be seen at its best. 

304. Popularity and Necessity of the Baths. As the 
afternoon advances, however, unless the case is extremely 
urgent, or the advocates unwontedly skilful, the impassive 
toga-clad figures upon their high seats of the tribunals begin 
to show signs of uneasiness. The pleaders themselves reach 
in turn a suitable climax, as the last filling of the water 
clocks runs out j if necessary they can finish their casti- 
gations or then* excuses to-morrow. The courts are adjourned, 
and judges, litigants, advocates, spectators, all hasten from 
the Basilicas possessed with the thought which is common to 

1 Space lacks for a discussion of the formal training of the Roman 
lawyer-orators, or concerning those public recitations which sometimes 
were the means of winning even greater reputation than any ordinary 
successes in the courts. 

Some of these recitations in hired halls, with the audience carefully 
sprinkled with a paid claque, were worse than pedantic and artificial. 
Pliny the Younger, although he denounced the use of a claque, repeated 
with pleasure how he gave a reading from his own works and plays which 
lasted two days, 4< necessitated by the applause of my audience'"; and 
boasted how he "had not allowed himself to skip one word." 

The Courts and the Baths 359 

nigh every man in Rome not of the most unfortunate class 
"To the Baths!" 

The warm Italian climate makes frequent ablutions not 
merely comfortable but necessary, but in the stern old days 
of the earlier Republic Seneca specifically assures us that the 
fathers of Rome were not wont to wash all over of tener than 
once a week (nundince). 1 Long before the age of Hadrian, 
however, a daily bath became a personal necessity. No 
dinner can be enjoyed without it. No respectable man can 
feel comfortable deprived of it. 

As the bathing habit grows, its luxury and elaboration 
grow correspondingly. The daily bath becomes a social 
ceremony, and the bathing place becomes almost as indis- 
pensable as the forum, or the triclinium. Other peoples and 
ages may equal or surpass the Romans in actual cleanliness ; 
none can develop institutions really corresponding to the 
enormous- public therma scattered over the capital. 2 

305. Luxurious Private Baths. Probably every senator 
and all the more pretentious equites have sumptuous private 
baths in their own mansions. Here they can go when visits 
to the public thermae are inconvenient, or to refresh them- 
selves between the long courses of their great dinner parties. 

The luxury of these private baths can be so prodigious as to 
afford constant texts for the Stoical philosophers. Seneca 
has waxed almost frantic telling how an aristocrat feels 
somewhat poverty-stricken unless " the walls [of his bath] 
shine with great costly slabs, and marbles of Alexandria 

1 The Roman week, nundin&, had eight days seven working days, 
then a market day. The Jewish week of seven days (hebdomas) became 
known to the Romans by the time of Pompeius Magnus, but it was not 
generally adopted until Christianity became the state religion. 

* Undoubtedly along with this incessant bathing there often went the 
presence of much squalor, dirt, obnoxious insects, etc. which seem ines- 
capable in Mediterranean countries. Probably many persons injured 
their health by excessive and debilitating bathing. 

360 A Day in Old Rome 

tricked out with reliefs in stone from Numidia, and with the 
whole ceiling elaborately covered with all varieties of paint- 
ings, and unless Thasian marbles inclose the swimming pool, 
and the water gushes out of silver taps " ; likewise " how many 
a rich freedman adorns his baths with fine collections of 
statues and a multitude of pillars supporting nothing but 
serving only as ornaments." Essential, too, are such private 
baths for those so devoted to the enjoyment that they in- 
sist on bathing several times a day. 

306. Government and Privately Owned Public Baths: 
Both Very Popular. Even great nobles, however, enjoy 
the society and recreations afforded by the public establish- 
ments ; and there is often no better way for a rich senator 
to display pomp and circumstance than to enter one of 
the huge thermae followed by a long train of slaves, freed- 
men, and clients. Men of business, and, of course, mere 
toilers must visit the baths when their duties give temporary 
leisure, but for everybody who can control his time there 
is one preferable period the eighth or ninth hour, two or 
three P.M. It is around this time that the bath attendants 
heat all their huge tanks to boiling and make ready with 
an endless supply of anointing oils and " strigils " (metal 
scrapers) to care for the onrush of the multitudes. 

There are about sixteen enormous public baths in Rome 
owned by the government, although often their care is leased 
to contractors. Small" baths, privately owned, opened to any- 
body at a tolerable fee and managed solely for profit, exist 
in addition all over the city, and nearly nine hundred stand 
licensed on the City Prefect's books. Some of these pri- 
vately owned baths are elegant establishments, offering great 
luxuries at corresponding prices. 

The keepers of a bath-house (balneatores) rank low in social 
estimation, for many of their places are the scenes of gross 
reveling and debauchery; but there is excellent money in 

The Courts and the Baths 361 

the business. Their baths have names something like inns, 
and going about the metropolis, we have noticed the " Baths 
of Daphne," " The ^Eolian," " The Diana," " The Mercury," 
or they are simply called from the names of the owners, as 
" Faustinian Baths " or " The Crassian." On a signboard 
one can read that the " Thermae of Marcus Crassus " offer 
both salt- and fresh-water baths. 1 

307. The Great Baths of Trajan : Baths, Club-House, and 
Caf 6. However, if one would see and meet the world, a 
visit to the great public baths is absolutely necessary. Some 
of these are located on the outskirts of the capital; for 
example, the magnificent Baths of Agrippa stand near the 
Pantheon in the Campus Martius ; but only a short distance 
from Publius Calvus's mansion on the Esquiline rise what 
are, perhaps, the finest public thermae as yet existing in 
Rome, those of Trajan, which were rebuilt on the site of a 
similar establishment earlier erected by Titus. 2 

The Baths of Trajan constitute more than a vast establish- 
ment where perhaps a thousand persons can bathe in the vari- 
ous tanks and pools simultaneously. They supply many of 
the needs which another age will meet partly by the club- 
house and partly by the cafe. They are frequented by 
women as well as men, although the former are expected to 
make their visits particularly during the morning hours and 
certain special rooms are set aside for their use. These rules, 
however, are often violated, and scenes can take place at the 

*An actual inscription. From the small provincial towns we have 
other inscriptions, advertising bath-houses "in city style (more urbico) 
and fitted with every convenience." 

2 The great Baths of Caracalla (built tire. 215 A.D.) and those of 
Diocletian (arc. 300 A.D.) were not in existence, of course, in the days 
of Hadrian. Their ruins are at present among the most imposing in 
Rome, and they were probably somewhat larger than the Baths of 
Trajan, which are to-day nearly demolished, but their aspect and general 
arrangement were hardly different. 

362 A Day in Old Rome 

Baths of Trajan which from the standpoint of a later time are 
simply indescribable. 

308. Heterogeneous Crowds in the Great Baths. One of 
the glories of the great thermae is their apparent democracy. 
Any freedman is entitled to make use of them, although there 
are doubtless special recreation and reposing rooms reserved 
for the rich elect. In theory the public baths are free, but 
except on gala occasions when the Emperor wishes to win 
popularity, there is usually a standard charge for admission 
of a quadrans, a small copper coin (about -J- cent). This 
simply covers the expense of the attendants who look after 
one's clothes, and provides the oil for anointing the use of 
the magnificent building goes for nothing. 

In such a place persons of every station can be seen min- 
gling together, social barriers partially break down, and a 
delightful informality prevails. It is recorded of Hadrian 
that when he is in the city, he proves his " liberal " habits by 
frequenting the public baths and bathing in the great pools 
along with the meanest of his subjects. Every afternoon, 
therefore, the thermae are the scenes of intensely bustling 
life. The noise rising from their great halls is terrific the 
shouting, laughing, splashing, running, exercising, going on 
continuously. 1 

The Romans are preeminently a sociable people. They 
delight in the free and easy contacts of the baths. What 
place has witnessed more financial bargains struck, quarrels 
started or abated, lawsuits arranged, marriage treaties nego- 
tiated, philosophical theories spun, artistic points discussed, 
or even matters of imperial policy promoted than the thermae 
of Trajan? At the thermae are continued all those matters 
you talked over in the Forum this morning and which you 

1 Houses near private baths were counted undesirable for residence or 
investment purposes on account of the noise, which, in private baths, 
often kept up late into the night. 

The Courts and the Baths 


will finish on the supper couches to-night. The place, how- 
ever, to a stranger is utterly bewildering in its hugeness, 
its noise and the hurrying of its crowds and its complexity, 
and few scenes in Rome could be more novel to a visitor from 
another civilization. 

a iiimiMiiMiinmiiim BHiiiimiiniiiinnnnnmr 

PLAN OF ROMAN PUBLIC BATHS : partly conjectural. 

309. Entering the Thermae. We can follow Calvus as 
he approaches by the great southern portal which looks down 
from the slopes of the Esquiline upon the great gray cylinder 
of the Flavian Amphitheater. Before us stretches an enor- 
mous portico, fronting a high masonry wall, of course crowned 
at many points with statues. The entrance is relatively 

364 A Day in Old Rome 

narrow in order to control the thousands of persons streaming 
inside, each passing his copper to the attendants at the gate. 
But once past the barrier, we see before us the vista, apparently 
not of a bathing establishment, but of an ample, inclosed 
park, girded on every side with handsome porticoes, scattered 
with trees, bright shrubbery, and groups of sculpture, but 
with the domes seemingly of a magnificent palace rising from 
the middle of the area. 

This park is teeming with life ; young men in the scantiest 
of costume are running races on a long sandy track, others 
are tossing ball, others engaged in a wrestling contest, Greek 
fashion, before a crowd of spectators wedged upon seats 
along a kind of stadium. In a kind of kiosk, or small temple, 
in a remote corner behind the shrubbery a venerable man with 
the long beard of a philosopher is expounding the theory of 
atoms to a small but select audience. We are told that there 
are also (mice for learned conventicles, likewise excellent 
libraries within the central building. 

310. Interior of the Baths: the Cold Room (Frigida- 
Tiurri). This building itself is an enormous mass of brick 
and concrete, formed into correspondingly enormous vaulted 
apartments and domes, their entire surface covered with 
polished marbles or at least with brilliantly colored stucco. 
At every point there are statues, singly and in groups, his- 
torical and mythological, in the round or in high reliefs, in 
stone and in bronze. Particularly to be noted is a marvelous 
if overrealistic Laocoon group destined to be celebrated 
through the coming ages. 1 

It boots little to describe all the special chambers and fea- 
tures of the Baths of Trajan ; we can only notice those prime 
features common to all public thermae even in the provincial 
cities. The great mass of visitors makes for the hall of the 

1 The famous group of Laocodn and his sons, now in the Vatican, was 
found in the ruins of these Baths of Titus and Trajan. 

The Courts and the Baths 365 

frigidarium (" cold room "), a vast unheated space, albeit 
comfortable enough on a warm Italian afternoon. Here they 
toss off their garments, to their own personal slaves if they 
are visitors of consequence, although there is a great force of 
regular attendants (capsarii] whose prime business it is to 
take charge of togas and tunics. For all their pains, thefts 
of clothes in the baths are very common and give rise to 
frequent uproars. 

Once stripped, even the gravest and oldest visitors are likely 
to indulge in all kinds of gymnastics and horseplay. If they 
do not go outside to limber themselves with tossing ball at 
trigon (see p. 206) or with amateur races in the stadium, there 
are plenty of diversions in the frigidarium itself. One can 
behold the " Very Noble " Varus, the presiding consul, for- 
getful of all official dignity, competing with an imperial lega- 
tus, both with their hands tied behind them and trying 
by leaning backward to touch their heads against the tips of 
their toes ; while a praetor, an hour earlier an austere judge 
in the Basilica ^Emilia, is leaping up and down " murdering 
a good song by trying to sing it." l 

311. The Great Swimming Pool and the Tepidarium. 
All this is usually preliminary to a splashing plunge into the 
clear cool ncdatio, the great swimming pool of unheated water, 
which is nearly 200 feet long by 100 broad, and in which 
scores of Rome's noblest dignitaries now are to be seen splash- 
ing, swimming, and cavorting, with perfect self-respect beside 
a much greater number of the plebeians. For the many who 
do not prefer a warm bath, this is sufficient refreshment on a 
summer day, and presently they will call their attendants to 
bring towels, strigils, and ointments and hasten home. But 
your true habitue makes almost as much of his baths as of his 
dinners. He delights in hot baths and all the refreshments 

1 Petronius's "Satyricon" gives a vivid and informing picture of the 
amusements and horseplay in the therm. 

366 A Day in Old Rome 

that go with them. " People want to be parboiled," once 
declared Seneca disgustedly. 

A hot bath involves an elaborate process. Often one will 
omit the frigidarium with its cold shock, or take it later. In 
any case one goes on to a second enormous chamber, perhaps 
the finest in the whole building. A majestic dome soars over 
broad pavement. The pillars and the fretwork on the ceil- 
ing and vaulting groan with heavy gilding. The groups of 
statues flanking each of the huge marble-incrusted piers are 
themselves of heroic size. The light streams down over the 
polished marbles of the walls and pendentives, upon hundreds 
of persons lolling about on stone benches, conversing, or 
lazily meditating. A warm mist is rising ; one feels as if in 
a plant house of tropical exotics, while the elaborate mosaic 
designs are pleasantly warm ujider one's bare feet. 

Such luxury of course is enjoyed in the tepidarium where 
the bathers are gently warmed before the actual hot bath. 
It is an oblong hall, nearly as large as the great cold swimming 
tank, 1 and, as stated, the decorations are almost overpower- 
ing in their richness. Anybody will explain that the floors 
are composed largely of hollow tHes through which warm 
air of just the right temperature is being continually forced 
from the great system of charcoal furnaces (" hypocausts ") 
located in the substructures of the thermae. 

312. The Hot Baths (Caldana) : Their Sensuous Luxury. 
At intervals some person rises from the couches and hastens 
away to one of the smaller chambers located at the four 
corners of the tepidarium. These are the actual ccddaria 
(hot baths), wherein a perpetual fine steam is rising. The 
water here is so hot that only experienced bathers can find a 
plunge in the large prophyry tanks enjoyable. If one can 

1 The tepidarium in the later Baths of Diocletian was about 300 feet 
long by 92 feet wide, but probably that in the Baths of Trajan was some- 
what smaller. 

The Courts and the Baths 367 

endure the heat, however, soon it becomes a kind of stupid 
bliss to lie back motionless in the heated water, gazing up- 
ward to the vaulted ceiling which is skilfully painted in a 
deep blue interspersed with trees, foliage, birds, and gilt 
stars, as if one were dropping off to slumber in the forest 
some summer evening ! If the acme of life is merely sensuous 
enjoyment, what can existence offer greatly surpassing this ! 

After you have lain quiescent in the caldarium until its 
pleasure has begun to pall, the proper thing next is to pass to 
the laconicum. Here the hypocausts have heated the floor 
and walls with an intense dry heat. The bathers loll again 
upon marble slabs, and first are dried off and then burst into 
a profuse perspiration. The ceremony of the bath is at last 

Your slaves or the regular attendant now will scrape you 
down with the thin flexible bronze strigils, rub you thoroughly 
with towels, and anoint you with unguents, the more costly 
and highly perfumed the better. In the numerous small 
chambers around the great laconicum, open for special fees, 
there is a greater luxury still ; here such elderly magnates 
as Varus, or even young noblemen of the more effeminate 
type, will be elaborately massaged and finally rubbed down 
with very soft woolen blankets, by at least three expert 
masseurs working together. After such an experience surely 
body and mind ought to be prepared for the pleasures of 
the dinner party. 

313. Restaurants, Small Shops, and Sports in or around 
the Baths. Very much more might be added about the 
Great Baths. For those people who wish to linger until the 
edge of meal time, there is no need to go hungry. Close by 
the entrance are numerous restaurants (popinci) of more than 
ordinary elegance. Here you can send your slave for sweet 
cakes, slices of toasted honey bread, sausages, eggs, and like 
viands; and in the great frigidarium and tepidarium the 

368 A Day in Old Rome 

peddlers from these restaurants are always going about with 
trays of such food, crying their wares and making the ordinary 
bedlam so much the greater. Directly in the thermae them- 
selves are small shops for the sale of fine perfumes and un- 
guents ; and often in the corridors and antechambers you can 
find crowds gazing at special displays of paintings, or of new 
statuary for the public baths are practically the art gal- 
leries of Rome. 

As for the frequenters of the baths, here even more than in 
the fora are the trysting spots for parasites. Let an ap- 
proachable nobleman be seen lolling at ease in the tepidarium 
and h'e is instantly spotted by some dinner hunter. Innu- 
merable are the attentions that can then be paid him. Does 
he wish to play handball ? The parasite retrieves for him. 
Does he lay aside a fine garment ? At once " his remarkable 
taste " is praised to the skies. Does he lie perspiring in the 
laconicum ? His " friend " tries to anticipate the slaves in 
wiping the sweat from his brow. No act is too obsequious 
all in hopes of hearing those delightful words, " Come home 
and dine ! " In the halls of the women similar scenes are 
enacted, but we cannot pursue them. 

At last the sun dials that stand in every open spot around 
the thermae indicate that the afternoon is well spent. From 
the laconicum the refreshed bathers return to the milder 
tepidarium, to recover from the shock of the intense heat 
and to resume their garments. Then the crowds all hasten 
out again. Some of the privately owned bathing-places 
may remain open all night, but the great thermae, lately the 
scene of such boisterous life, stand vast, dark, and empty. 

314. The Great Porticoes along the Campus Martins. 
The Park System towards the Tiber. The public baths are 
not the only places for daily enjoyment which a solicitous 
government has provided for the quirites. The fora are 
limited and the city proper is very closely built, but around its 

The Courts and the Baths 369 

outskirts and especially to the north and west there is a gen- 
uinely magnificent park system. The beginnings of this are 
reached after you go through the Forum of Trajan and follow 
along " Broadway." Here are the great porticoes and prom- 
enades of the Ssepta Julia. The famous stores (see p. 228) 
are mostly on the east side of the avenue verging off towards 
the slopes of the Quirinal, but the west side, going clear 
across the broad Campus Martius to the Tiber, is more 
strictly public property. 

This wide level area formed by the great bend in the river 
has long since ceased to be a mere parade ground for the 
army. There are broad masses of greenery, grateful shade 
trees, spreading over neatly graveled walks, as well as liter- 
ally miles of lofty porticoes stretching in every direction and 
giving comfortable places for strolling in bad weather. The 
greatest of these porticoes is, of course, the long Ssepta Julia, 
but there is a succession of others, so that you can almost 
wander from the Column of Trajan across the Campus clear 
to the ^Elian Bridge completely defiant of any rain. 

In the open pleasure grounds there are always people 
exercising without the restraints inevitable at the thermse, 
playing ball, wrestling, exhibiting horses and chariots, as 
well as very many children chasing about with hoops. If 
legionaries are passing through the city, their leathern tents 
probably stand here, and here, too, can be held all the vast 
open-air pageants which cannot accommodate themselves 
inside any building. 

315. Public Buildings upon the Campus Martins. Out 
of the lofty trees, however, there rise still loftier structures. 
Two of the great public thermae, those of Nero and 
Agrippa, are here upon the Campus Martius. In this region, 
also, are three of the principal theaters, that of Pompeius, 
accommodating some 25,000 people, and two others (Theaters 
of Marcellus and Balbus) only slightly smaller. Here is 

370 A Day in Old Rome 

the Flaminian Circus and the Amphitheater of Taurus for 
those horse races and gladiator fights which do not demand 
the huge Circus Maximus or Flavian. Here again is the 
golden-roofed Pantheon and a great number of other temples 
to such ill-assorted gods as the Egyptian Serapis and Isis, 
Neptune, Minerva of the Campus, and the old Latin god- 
dess Juturna. Notable, too, are the triumphal arches 
raised across several of the broad avenues. 

You can in fact wander on across this region from one 
marvelous structure to another until the eye and brain be- 
come weary trying to enumerate, much more to comprehend 
the succession of buildings every one of which is a triumph of 
marble and of sculpture. Pressing on to the marge of the 
Tiber itself, the river above the commercial bridges is seen 
covered with gay pleasure skiffs plying about under bright 
flags. The shores are lined with handsome little houses, 
usually decorated in the doors with potted shrubs or boughs 
of foliage. Innocent they look in the day time but at night 
when their windows blaze with lamps they will be veritable 
traps of iniquity for the enjoyment and then the ruin of the 

316. The Tombs of Hadrian and Augustus. Across 
the river near its main bend, can be noticed the green slopes 
of the hill of the Vatican uncrowned as yet by any temple of 
fame, but with the suburban Circus of Nero stretching along 
its slopes. Directly across the current, also, is rising the 
enormous circular mass of the Mausoleum of Hadrian, vith 
the derricks and staging still above it swinging to place the 
last of that galaxy of statues which will look down upon the 
Tiber. 1 

We do not cross over to the new structure, but proceed- 
ing along the bank to the point where the Via Flaminia 

1 The Tomb of Hadrian was not actually completed until 139 A.D. 
after his death. 

The Courts and the Baths 


CASTLE OF ST. ANGELO : Tomb of Hadrian in its present state. 


A Day in Old Rome 

continuing " Broadway " bears down beside the river, we 
see before us the older but very majestic Mausoleum of 
Augustus. It lifts itself fully 220 feet in the air, its base 
composed of a vast cylinder coated with sculptured marbles, 
above which there is heaped a conical mound of earth, planted 
with evergreen trees, while on the summit stands a colossal 

TOMB OF HADRIAN. Restored after Von Falke. 

statue of its mighty builder himself. Within repose the urns 
not merely of Augustus, but of nearly all the worthier mem- 
bers of the imperial families. 

These are only some of the features of the Campus Martius 
which foreign visitors such as Strabo acclaim as the most 
remarkable section of Rome, if not the one most charged with 
her past history. Time fails to visit the other great public 
pleasure-grounds upon the slopes of the Pincian the 
" Gardens of Lucullus " and the " Gardens of Sallust," or 
that other wide park northeast of the Esquiline, the " Gar- 

The Courts and the Baths 373 

dens of Maecenas/' presenting yet other vistas of shrubbery, 
groves, promenades, and green lawns, interspersed with pleas- 
ure pavilions. It behooves us now to return to Rome and to 
visit some of the most important centers of its life the 
theater, the amphitheater, and the circus. 



317. Roman Festivals : Their Great Number. One 
thing only, besides a long session of the Senate, ordinarily 
will keep men of the class of Publius Calvus away from the 
great thermae the celebration of one of the greater Pub- 
lic Games. 

The Ludi Publid, around which so large a part of 
Roman life revolves, like the Pan-Hellenic games and similar 
Greek festivals, always have religious origin; they are in 
honor of some god or group of deities. But the secular has 
long intruded into their routine. Nobody worries greatly 
about the fact that the Ludi Apollinares are for the glory of 
Apollo, save perhaps as one adds an extra fervent invocation 
of the Delphian god during the placing of wagers. The time 
consumed by the Public Games represents a period of recrea- 
tion and festival, which other ages will find in Sundays and 
Saints' Days. 

Altogether there are some 76 days per year normally set 
aside for these great Ludi Sollemnes, including such prolonged 
periods as those of the Ludi Romani or Magni which extend 
from September 4th to 18th, on a stretch, with several others 
for six days and more. When to these periods are added 
various extra or very special holidays, during which the 
ordinary life of the city is broken up, the courts are closed, and 
only the most necessary labors of commerce and industry 
are conducted, it is plain that the plebeians and even the 
slaves get pretty ample respite in their year of toil. Without 


The Public Games 375 

attempting a close study of the official lists of holidays it is 
safe to say that the average Roman gains many more periods 
of lawful vacation than the laboring classes can enjoy in 
other ages, another factor which tends to make the metrop- 
olis abound with idlers and parasites. 

318. Passion for Public Spectacles: Mania for Gam- 
bling. Besides the great public theaters, amphitheaters, and 
race courses (circuses) there are many smaller private estab- 
lishments. Good money can be made from gladiator fights 
and chariot races, and they are often given by speculators, 
although more frequently in a provincial town than in 

The passion for such spectacles and contests is incredible ; 
no " baseball " or " football " of another era can so mo- 
nopolize the popular mind. The wagering on all kinds of 
contests is incessant in every insula, shop, or mansion, and, of 
course, ordinarily it is entirely lawful. Only the few select 
spirits cry out vainly against the passion, although Juvenal's 
famous protest will echo across the centuries, " The Roman 
people who once gave commands, consulships, legions, and 
all else now yearn simply for two things free bread and the 
Public Games r 

The government doubtless encourages this tendency. If 
the multitude is engrossed with the merits of two charioteers, 
so much less is the scrutiny upon strange doings at the Pala- 
tine ; yet even excellent emperors give very elaborate specta- 
cles as a kind of lawful tribute to the multitudes of that city 
which affords them their right to the purple. After the 
conquest of Dacia, Trajan celebrated his victory by giving 
contests which lasted 123 days, during which 10,000 wild and 
domestic animals were said to have been killed and 10,000 
gladiators fought, although probably most of the latter were 
allowed to survive. So incessant in fact are the contests of 
some variety, that rare is the day when a thunderous roar 

376 A Day in Old Rome 

does not reverberate over the city telling that the " Blue " 
or " Green " jockeys have won, or a favorite gladiator has 
plunged home his trident. 

319. Expenses of Public Spectacles to Great Officials. 
Naturally the cost of these contests is enormous. The presi- 
dency and supervision of them is distributed around among 


the magistrates, with the chief glories and burdens falling 
usually upon the consuls and praetors. 1 The State gives 
each official a respectable sum to pay for the spectacles, but 
this falls far short of the actual cost. The glory of presiding 
in the central box at the Flavian Amphitheater or Circus 
Maximus is so great that a magistrate is bound to sacrifice a 

1 Under the Republic the jediles had to preside over very expensive 
games. Augustus, however, turned the Cura Ludorum ("supervision of 
the games") over to the praetors, and the aediles only gave spectacles 

The Public Games 377 

good share of his entire patrimony in order to make a fine 
display, to win the " Ave ! " of the populace, and to hold up 
his head among his noble rivals. When Hadrian was praetor, 
his kinsman, Trajan the Emperor, gave him personally 
4,000,000 sesterces ($160,000) towards the cost of those 
games which the prsetorship demanded. 

Our Publius Calvus, with no imperial connection, deliber- 
ately saved and economized for years prior to his elevation 
to the prsetorship, and during his term of office he spent almost 
as much energy in corresponding with a friend who was 
legatus of Numidia to get African leopards, and negotiating 
with certain racing interests to secure a very desirable jockey, 
as he did in settling a certain great lawsuit before his tri- 
bunal. One good set of chariot races can cost 400,000 ses- 
terces ($16,000), and some of Calvus's richer colleagues have 
found the praetors' games coming to a dozen times as much. 
He congratulated himself, therefore, on getting out of office 
for about half their outlay ; as it was he had to live very 
sparingly for the next two years, and sell off a villa. 1 

320. Indescribable Popularity of the Games. Every- 
body in Rome attends the games. Once slaves were for- 
bidden to be present, but that law had broken down several 
generations ago. Few are the masters that risk the unpopu- 
larity of refusing to let their familia frequent at least the more 
famous contests. The waiting litter bearers, the idling foot- 
boys, all the parasitical menials about the great mansions 
discuss every coming event most frantically and wager all 
the coppers which their masters give them upon the outcome, 
and their zeal is matched by the ragged plebeians who infest 
the fetid insulse, or sleep under the porticoes. 

Seemingly half of Rome exists only from one chariot or 
gladiator exhibition to another. Every contest is a display 

1 In the later Empire we hear of the case of Symmachus, an office- 
holder whose games cost him 2000 pounds of gold, about $400,000, 

S78 A Day in Old Rome 

cf social importance. The front seats are assigned to the 
magistrates, who occupy curule chairs in the order of their 
rank ; there are other seats of honor for the senators, others 
directly behind them for the equites. If the Emperor is 
present, he sits in a special box (cubiculum), which Trajan 
with democratic condescension caused to be thrown wide open 
that all the spectators might see him. 

These seats of honor are free, but the great multitude of 
well-to-do spectators are expected to purchase tickets for all 
the better ranges behind the tiers of the equites. 1 The prices 
ordinarily are low, but concerning these tickets there is a 
complaint not unknown in another age: that the box- 
officers (locarii) in charge buy up many reserved seats for 
the more popula/games, then sell them over again at an out- 
rageous advance. However, behind these reserved seats 
there are still a certain number of others thrown open free 
to the first comers, and behind these is a wide space where 
plebeians and slaves can stand as a gesticulating, shouting, 
steaming mass, gazing down on the spectacles below. 

321. The Theater Less Popular than the Circus or Amphi- 
theater. The public exhibitions are three general kinds, 
the theatrical performances, the circus races, and the gladia- 
torial combats. 

For the great masses, the theater can never have the same 
vulgar appeal possessed by its two rivals ; on the other hand 
some men of intelligence and rank do not hesitate to dis- 
miss the latter as " for the mob " and affect a great contempt 
for charioteers and "Thracians." Even the most sophis- 
ticated Romans, however, never are true Athenians. Trage- 
dies dealing with profound human problems, such as won 
trophies for JSschylus and Sophocles, would fall absolutely 

1 Italian audiences stowed very close. According to the marking upon 
the stone seats in the theater at Pompeii, only 16 inches were allowed for 
each spectator. 

The Public Games 


flat beside the Tiber. 1 There is even a growing distaste for 
the better kind of comedies. What delights the Roman 
audience in the theater most is some kind of elaborate horse- 

The stage as a rule is long and narrow, some 120 by 24 feet, 
and is raised only about three feet above the orchestra where 


a chorus can dance and parade. 2 The rear of the stage has a 
fixed background painted to represent the front of a palace ; 
it is pierced by three doors, and is adorned with columns and 
niches for the inevitable statues of the Muses, of Apollo, and 
of like deities. A large curtain, not dropped from above 

1 High-flying tragedies were indeed ground out by Seneca and by many 
inferior literary dabblers, but these "dramas" were hardly intended to 
be genuine acting plays, but only to be read aloud. 

2 The ancient orchestra was of course for the dances of the chorus, 
never for seating the spectators. 

380 A Day in Old Rome 

but rolled up from the bottom, can uncover the most amazing 
spectacles upon this stage. Long ago Horace complained 
of how a Roman audience would depart discontented if the 
play did not require in its middle " either a bear or a boxing 
match." For four hours and more the curtain is " kept 
down " while " squadrons of horse and bodies of foot are seen 
flying, while luckless kings with hands tied behind their 
backs and chariots of all kinds and even ships go hurrying 
along, and while spoils of ivory and Corinthian brass are 
borne by in state." 

There are, however, two kinds of performances more cer- 
tain to crowd the theater than these very cheap spectacular 
plays they are the mimes and pantomimes. 

322. The Mimes : Character Plays. The mimes are a 
native Latin product, although they have a certain kinship 
with the Greek " New Comedy." They are character plays 
of everyday life without the actors' masks and buskins ; and 
they are always coarse, vulgar, and in the nature of roaring 
farces.. The language is often exceedingly gross and the 
situations frequently match the language. The actors wear 
a kind of harlequin costume, extremely grotesque, and along 
with the chief mimus, who takes the leading part, there is 
usually a second actor who draws thunderous applause from 
the upper benches. He is the strepidus or parasitus, a kind 
of pantaloon, a clown with puffed cheeks and shaven head, 
who has to stand a great amount of boisterous slapping from 
the chief actor. 

Other parts can be taken by women, who are forbidden to 
appear on the stage in " legitimate " tragedy and comedy. 
Often the dances and postures of these actresses are inde- 
scribably vulgar, and their reputation for e'asy conduct is too 
well established. For all that, their presence brings unsteady 
youths to the theaters like flies, and affairs with actresses are 
quite normal things with a type of young bloods. Once 

The Public Games 381 

Cicero was defending a free and easy client, a certain Plancus. 
" He's accused of having run off with an actress? " declared 
the advocate. " Why that's just an amusement excellently 
sanctioned by custom ! " 

The stories portrayed by the mimes correspond with their 
general character : a robber chief befooling the clumsy 
constables sent to take him, a lover surprised by the return 
of a jealous husband and forced to hide in a large box, a 
beggar who suddenly stumbles into a fortune, a descent 
into the world of ghosts, episodes revolving around the in- 
troduction of a very clever trained dog, etc. Some of the 
acting is of high order, but there are few mimes which do 
not abound in lines and situations extremely gross, for 
all that the open-air theaters are packed from morn until 

323. The Pantomimes : Their Real Art. All considered, 
the pantomimes represent a higher degree of art. Here we 
have only one actor, who, with the aid of a chorus and a 
great orchestra of lutes and lyres, undertakes to tell a whole 
story merely by his dancing and rhythmic motions. A really 
great pantomimus wins and deserves the favor of highly cul- 
tivated aristocrats. Pylades and Bathyllus in Augustus's 
day had the fashionable world practically at their feet, and 
Paris was one of the prime intimates of Nero. 

The greater the skill the fewer the words that need to be 
spoken ; the chanting of the chorus while the pantomimus is 
changing his costumes giving hint enough of the characters he 
is portraying. The music, florid and descriptive, keeps the 
audience in mood for the dancing. All sorts of subjects can 
thus be portrayed, including those of old Greek tragedies, 
the actor slipping from one character to another with con- 
summate art : now he is Agamemnon, now Clytemnestra, 
now Orestes. He can take male or female parts alternately, 
delineate the deepest passions, and tell a whole story with 

382 A Day in Old Rome 

what his admirers call his " speaking hands/ 5 and his " elo- 
quence of dancing." 

To see a great pantomimus, clad perhaps in fleshings of 
soft light red Canunian wool, setting off perfectly his graceful 
figure, dance through the story of how Achilles disguised as 
a maiden was discovered by Ulysses and summoned away 
to the Trojan War, is a joy to the most sophisticated and 
intellectual. The dancer can take many parts the fair 
youth concealed in the palace of Lycomedes, the embassy of 
Ulysses and Diomedes, the young warrior betraying himself 
by his interest in the helmet and cuirass concealed in the 
mass of gifts intended for women ; the whole impersona- 
tion in short may be wonderful. 

Not all the dances, however, are so innocent. Many of the 
coarsest stories in Grseco-Roman mythology are acted out 
on the stage, and the grosser they are often the louder the 
applause of the groundlings. Nevertheless, the leading 
pantomimi rightly have the entree to lordly houses, enjoy 
great incomes, and are among the most admired personages 
in Rome. They are outdistanced, however, by two sets of 
more vulgar rivals the charioteers and the gladiators. 

324. Extreme Popularity of the Circus. When a series 
of superior contests is announced for the Circus all Rome 
seems to become racing mad. Words fail to describe the 
excitement, the tense discussion of the charioteers and their 
fours, the wave of betting from the inner Palatine to the most 
sordid insula, and then the exuberant joy or immoderate 
grief over the results. 

Superior folk try in vain to appear disdainful of these 
contests. Thus Pliny the Younger has recorded his deep 
disgust that " so many thousands of men should be eager, 
like a pack of children, to see horses running time after time 
with the charioteers bending over their cars." " The multi- 
tude/' he asserted, " were not interested in the speed of the 

The Public Games 383 

teams or the skill of the drivers, but solely in the ' racing 
colors.' " " If in the middle of the race (he added) the colors 
were changed, the enthusiasm of the spectators would change 
with them, and they would suddenly desert the drivers and 
horses whom they now recognized afar and whose names they 
shouted aloud. Such is the influence and authority vested 
in one cheap tunic ! " 

325. Popular Charioteers (Aurigae) : the Great Racing 
Factions. It is all very well to write this, but neither Pliny 
nor anybody else can prevent the greatest charioteers from 
enjoying temporary incomes surpassing those of a majority of 
the senators. Many of these lucky aurigce are Moors, dark- 
skinned, hawk-eyed rascals, with sharp white teeth and 
sinews of iron; but a considerable sprinkling of them are 
Spaniards, as was that Diocles, whose heirs proudly recorded 
on his tombstone that in a professional career of twenty-four 
years he drove in 4257 races, and conquered 1462 times, with 
total winnings of nearly 36 million sesterces (say $1,440,000). 
He, however, was not the most fortunate there are drivers 
on record who boast of at least 3500 victories, though, of 
course, many of these were probably won in the provinces. 

No sport will ever be more thoroughly standardized and 
professionalized than that of the chariot races in Rome. 
When a magistrate or other seeker for applause decides to 
give a series of contests he appeals to the great circus syndi- 
cates ("factions")-" There were originally only the Red 
and the White; then the Blue and the Green have been 
added, and finally the Purple and the Gold. Each faction 
maintains huge racing stables with expert drivers, grooms, 
trainers, and veterinaries, as well as many superb " fours " 
of horses. 

The donor of the games has to arrange with these organiza- 
tions how many contests he will require, each " faction " 
entering a chariot in each race. Ten races a day is the 

384 A Day in Old Rome 

minimum ; twenty-four the ordinary maximum. After the 
contracts have been signed and the programs posted all 
over the city, anxious days follow for all concerned to insure 
an honest race. The wagering is always so general and so 
reckless, that infinite precautions are needful to keep the 
horses from being drugged, the drivers from being bribed 
to throw the contests, or (if they prave incorruptible) the 
charioteers from being poisoned enough to make them lose. 
The tricks of the race-track will simply endure across the ages. 

326. The Circus Maximus. After such preparations 
and excitement no wonder that people complain that the 
Circus Maximus is sometimes too small. This long narrow 
depression between the Palatine and Aventine has provided 
an excellent natural race course since the days of the Tarquins. 
At first the slopes of the hills were simply lined with crude 
wooden benches. By Julius Caesar's time many of these 
benches were made of stone, and in all could seat at least 
150,000 spectators. After a great fire in 36 A.D. Claudius 
presently rebuilt the whole structure so there are now seats, 
partly of marble and partly of wood ; and Trajan added still 
more tiers and more marble ornaments. At present the Cir- 
cus Maximus covers the enormous area of 600 by 2000 feet, 
and it is declared that there is at least standing room, if not 
seats, for 385,000 spectators a good fraction of the entire 
adult population of Rome. 1 

327. The Race-Track : Procession before the Races. 
Inasmuch as horse races are not peculiar to the Imperial Age 
let a brief description of the Great Circus and its contests 
suffice. The long reaches of seats are, of course, portioned 
off to give the senators and equites the coigns of vantage. 
There is a lofty imperial box (pulmnar) on the northern side 

1 This figure seems decidedly too high ; but the present ruinous state 
of the Circus Maximus makes it very difficult to determine the number 
more exactly. 

The Public Games 385 

leading directly down from the Palatine. Here the Emperor 
and his suite can refresh themselves, and from a wide terrace 
command a marvelous view over the long area of the immense 

Down the center of this area runs its central " backbone " 
(spina), forming a long low wall separating the outward and 
inward tracks, adorned with an unusually elaborate set of 
statues, columns upholding trophies, and even with one or 

CIRCUS MAXIMUS. Restoration by Spandoni. 

two tapering obelisks imported from Egypt. In a kind of 
open pavilion at either end of the spina can be seen seven 
huge marble eggs and as many marble dolphins. One of 
each of these will be removed as each lap is finished, there 
being seven laps normally in every race. 

The great yellow race-track on gala occasions can be 
sprinkled with some powerful perfumes, and with glittering 
particles of mica or with red lead. When at last the multi- 
tudes have gathered, the contestants enter in solemn proces- 
sion by the Triumphal Gate at the extreme eastern end of the 
Circus, and ahead of the array of chariots first of all there 
goes the magistrate giving the games, himself in a magnificent 

386 A Day in Old Rome 

car and surrounded by a brilliant hedge of attendants on 
horse and foot. Very likely he is then followed by certain 
priestly colleges in pontifical vestments, by statues of deities 
piously borne on gilded litters, by bands of trumpeters and 
harpists raising their clangor, and then last, but not least, 
come the racing cars themselves. 

328. Beginning a Race in the Circus. The master of the 
games takes his seat in the podium, the center of the reserved 
benches near the end of the track. The chariots disappear 
in the great line of carceres, " prison houses/' the carefully 
closed stalls at the western end of the Circus. After due 
waiting, fidgeting, chattering, wagering along the mountainous 
slopes of the benches, all the trumpets blow together. Silence 
for an instant grips the tens of thousands, while the president 
rises in his lodge and waves out a broad mappa, a white cloth 
visible far up and down the entire circus. 

Instantly the doors of the carceres fly open ; the six chariots l 
dash forth at full bound. The aurigse, in tight-fitting tunics 
of the colors of their factions, stand erect in the light cars, the 
reins looped around their waists, snapping the loose ends over 
the flying horses. Instantly they have dashed to the three 
tall pillars of the nearer goal (meta), and only by miraculous 
chance is a disastrous collision avoided at the outset. Then 
the whole circus rises and shouts together. The familiar 
figure of Scorpus the Moor, a brown giant in the tunic of the 
Greens, shoots ahead. His magnificent quadriga of bays 
have taken the wall at one leap. The flying dust cloud, as 
the other five cars dash after him, almost dims the sight of the 
race. The noise from the benches is deafening. The backers 
of the trailing cars are in an agony. 

329. Perils of the Races ; Proclaiming the Victors. 

Scorpus's chariot whirls around the lower goal like lightning 

1 As many as ten cars could contend at once in the greatest games. 

The Public Games 387 

and comes tearing back on the opposite track, while each one 
of the balls and dolphins is removed to indicate the progress 
of the race. The other cars press hard ; and as the teams 
gather speed it is a marvel how the drivers keep their stand 
with the cars leaping hither and thither under them, their 
wheels barely touching the flying track. 1 

Five times around they go, with Scorpus gallantly main- 
taining his lead. Then at the sixth turn the " Gold " driver 
reins too sharply. His chariot crashes over in a complete 
somersault, but, by a desperate maneuver just as he is 
thrown, he whips out the knife held ready in his belt and 
cuts the reins about his waist. By a miracle he is flung out 
sprawling upon the yielding sands, yet escapes death under 
the car racing just behind. The spectators, therefore, escape 
the brutal and familiar sight of an auriga trampled or crushed 
to death by the rushing chariots and horses. Meantime 
Scorpus losing not an instant has hurried again past the upper 
goal ; a frantic attempt by Cresconius, the " Red " driver 
just behind, fails to head his steeds, and amid a deafening 
tumult he sweeps past the president of the games to victory. 

The official jubilatores immediately stride out into the 
track crying with loud voice the name of the winner, and the 
news is soon flying all over the city. Nay, some of the out- 
lying towns are speedily informed of the general results, for 
a certain sports-loving senator has come with a cage of hom- 
ing pigeons, each colored to match one of the factions. The 
instant Scorpus is acclaimed, green pigeons are released to 
tell all the gamblers in Ostia and Praeneste that the " Green " 
cars have won the first round. 

1 The description of the Roman-style chariot race in Lew Wallace's 
famous novel "Ben Hur " is technically as well as rhetorically admirable 
and accurate. However, no high-rank Roman, such as Messala is repre- 
sented to have been, would have driven a quadriga in the public circus. 
The drivers were nearly always low-born men of provincial if not of servile 

The Public Games 389 

After the noise has subsided, the trumpets blow again, 
another set of chariots is ready and the whole excitement is 
repeated. So the contests keep up through the day. If there 
is a long interval between the races, rope-dancers, acrobats, 
and trick-riders are ready to amuse the populace. Probably 
at the end there will be the crowning and decisive race be- 
tween the winners of the preceding contests. If Scorpus can 
triumph in this also, he will carouse with his companions, 
doubtless more praised and feted for one glad night than 
even the Emperor. 

330. Gladiatorial Contests Even More Popular than the 
Circus. Yet Scorpus with all his adulation and ephemeral 
wealth turns green with jealousy toward a rival for fame 
the victorious gladiator in the last combats in tlie Flavian. 
The sports of the arena perhaps excite greater favor with the 
mob, betting more reckless, passions more frantic than do 
even the contests of the Circus. 

The gladiatorial games are peculiar to Roman civilization ; 
nothing exactly like them will follow in later ages. 1 They 
illustrate completely the pitiless spirit and carelessness of hu- 
man life lurking behind the pomp, glitter, and cultural pre- 
tensions of the great imperial age. True it is that persons of 
intellectual tastes sometimes affect greater contempt for 
these contests than they do for the Circus. " No doubt the 
gladiators," such men as Seneca write to one another, " are 
criminals deserving their fate, but what have you done to 
deserve being compelled to witness their last agonies?" 
No matter ; nothing will gain " popularity " for a ruler or 
for a magnate sooner than announcing a fight in the arena. 

The very best Emperors arrange elaborate series of combats 
perhaps with a sigh in their hearts, as colossal and bloody 
bribes which must be thrown constantly to the mob ; and 

1 The Spanish bull fights at their very worst were a relatively harmless 

390 A Day in Old Rome 

Imperator, great officials, senators, priests, nay, the Vestal 
Virgins themselves, will all be on hand in the reserved front 
benches. There is even given out a philosophical justifica- 
tion for the butcheries, namely, that the spectators become 
hardened to the sight of death and are, therefore, the more 
courageous when their own hour comes. The reigning Ha- 
drian considers the arena combats to be useful also for keeping 
up the military spirit ; in short the whole Latin half of the 
Empire delights in them, although they never have become 
very popular in the Greek portion. 1 

331. Gladiator Figttts at Funerals. Gladiatorial fights 
claim an Etruscan origin, and in Rome they were first exhib- 
ited at funerals of the great, possibly with the idea that the 
spirits of the slain would serve the dead lord in the under- 
world. It is still very fashionable to give a sizable gladiator 
fight as the aftermath of any pretentious funeral, but this is 
perhaps more common in the provincial towns than in Rome, 
where the government likes to control such martial spectacles. 

We actually hear of the populace of one small city that 
would not let the funeral procession of a distinguished lady 
proceed through the gates until her husband had promised 
them some public combats. Pliny the Younger's friend 
Maximus presented a gladiator fight to the citizens of Verona 
" in honor of his most estimable wife," a native of the place, 
but the exhibition was not quite a success because " on ac- 
count of bad weather the numerous African panthers he had 
bought failed to arrive on the expected day." 

332. Gladiator " Schools " (Ludf) : Inmates Usually Crim- 
inals. There are four great imperial " schools " (ludf) of 
gladiators in Rome maintained as public institutions. These 

1 The- gladiatorial games were never introduced in Athens. Once when, 
in the local council, it was proposed to imitate Rome and build an amphi- 
theater, a prominent philosopher quashed the whole project by moving 
"firat to abolish the altar of Pity. 1 ' 

The Public Games 391 

can be drawn upon for the regular public games ; but there 
are plenty of private " schools " maintained by speculators 
who can often supply quite as good fighters. 

If, as a magistrate, or as a bereaved kinsman or widower, 
you decide to give some combats, and if your purse is full, 
the rest is easy. You merely contract with the lanista 
(keeper and trainer of a school) for so many contests upon 
specified terms ; although, in really pretentious affairs, gladi- 
ators from several rival schools can be pitted together 
this adds to the excitement. When the fight is over the free 
gladiators are paid off, the slave fighters are returned to their 
owners and indemnification is given the owners of the slain 
all on set business terms. There is great expense in train- 
ing good gladiators and slain champions cannot fight again ; 
and this solid fact often prevents combats from being too 
destructive, while wounded survivors may be carefully nursed 
just as a sick race horse may be cared for. 

Anybody will tell us that no pity need be wasted on gladia- 
tors. Many a low-born criminal is dragged from the prse- 
f ect's court with a relieved grin on his felonious countenance ; 
the magistrate has not ordered " To the cross with him ! " 
but merely " Train him for the amphitheater/' Many an 
incorrigible slave has been sold to a lanista by his master 
instead of being promptly whipped to death. 

Not a few unfortunate prisoners of war and kidnapped 
persons, however, if they have stout physiques, find their 
way also to the lanistse instead of to the ordinary slave mar- 
kets, and brutal masters will sometimes sell perfectly innocent 
slaves if the latter appear likely to make good swordsmen. 
On the other hand many plebeians of the baser sort are caught 
by the glitter and glory of the arena, and submit voluntarily 
to the discipline of the " schools/' while under the tyrannous 
emperors even men claiming noble rank have fought upon the 
sands to truckle to the whims of an evil Caesar. 

392 A Day in Old Rome 

333. Severe Training of Gladiators; Their Ephemeral 
Glory. The lanistse's discipline is terribly severe, as is 
perhaps needful considering the wretches placed under it. 
The gladiators are kept in prison-like barracks. Nothing is 
omitted to brutalize them and to make their whole life center 
around mere skill with their weapons. They are fed upon 
great quantities of meat. Cruel floggings follow the least 
breach of discipline, and in every ludus is a lock-up, with a 
long line of stocks and shackles, which never wants its many 

On the other hand many a stupid wretch is made to forget 
the doom probably awaiting him in the next combats, by 
dreaming of the glories promised a truly successful gladiator. 
If he can emerge victorious from a series of combats, he is 
more talked of than even the most daring charioteer ; great 
nobles will visit his quarters to watch his training and feel of 
his muscles ; his owners will do everything to pamper such a 
valuable piece of property ; innumerable women, even among 
the silken-robed clarissimce, will dote upon him ; and perhaps 
he can actually elope with a senator's wife. 

Not merely the youths but all the girls in Rome will sing 
the champion's praises and dream of his valor. He will be 
named in countless wall-scribblings as " The Maiden's Sigh," 
" The Glory of the Girls," " The Lord of the Lasses/' or 
" The Doctor (medicus) of the Little Darlings." 1 If he has 
lost an ear, if his face is one mass of disfiguring scars, the 
women run after him all the more. " Never mind that," 
scolds Juvenal, " he is a gladiator." 

The end of this glory ordinarily comes speedily and tragi- 
cally, but sometimes the very fortunate and skilful fighter 
will win such favor that, at the popular demand, the giver of 
the games will present him with a wooden sword the token 

1 Actual epithets bestowed on gladiators in the Pompeiian wall inscrip- 

The Public Games 393 

of honorable discharge. If he is not a slave-criminal, he can 
now quit the Indus with plenty of money and a merry life be- 
fore him, but the taint of his " profession " will always stick to 
him. He can never become a Roman citizen, much less can 
he be enrolled as an eques whatever the extent of his wealth. 

334. Normal Arrangements for an Arena Contest. Strictly 
speaking the amphitheater is used for two kinds of entertain- 
ments wild beast hunts (venationes) and direct combats 
between men. Each form is extremely popular, although 
human gore appears a little cheap and ordinary compared 
with that of an expensive tiger, panther, or lion. It always 
makes a hit with the crowd to turn, for example, a tigress and 
a fierce bull-elephant loose on the sands and watch the two 
brutes rend one another. 

It is true nevertheless that nothing can really take the place 
of a sustained combat between two thoroughly trained pupils 
of the " schools." Ordinarily the management will have the 
hunts in the morning at the amphitheater and the human 
contests in the afternoon. That will send the myriads away 
happily satiated after a day spent amid the perpetual sniff of 

No scene visited in our prolonged " day " in Rome can 
be more repellent to non-Roman tastes than that of the 
amphitheater, but to complete the picture it must not be 
omitted, although horrid deeds will be dismissed with few 
words and still less of moralizing. Publius Calvus's friend, 
Decimus Cluentius, this year is Prsetor. He is a wealthy 
senator and has been saving money carefully for " his 
games." He has already made a good public impression 
by his program of races in the Circus ; now he will " add 
to the luster of his fame " by a day of contests in the Flavian. 
Already the notice writers have distributed the list of the 
gladiators that he has engaged, in every eating-house and 
wine-room in the city. 

394 A Day in Old Rome 

The impression thus made has been excellent : " Cluentius 
is living up to his riches. Many of his gladiators are freemen 

the finest blades, no running away, the kind of fellows that 
will stand right up and be butchered in mid-arena. Besides, 
he's been lucky enough to get from the prsef ect a farm steward 
who was caught insulting his master's wife a good dinner 
for the lions. These rights won't be as when that miserly 
Norbanus exhibited his gladiators were such a cowardly, 
feeble lot they'd have fallen flat if you breathed on 'em." l 

335. The Flavian Amphitheater (Later " Colosseum "). 

Such an exhibition can only be held in the Flavian Amphi- 
theater, the vast structure known to later ages as the " Colos- 
seum." In Republican days gladiator fights were held in 
the open Forum or in the Circus, but these were ill-adapted 
for the purpose. To see tjie fine points of the combats the 
audience must be concentrated around the contestants as 
closely as possible; hence the "amphitheater" an im- 
mense oval of seats looking down upon a central arena. 

The building of such a quantity of seats out of permanent 
materials is very expensive and wooden structures were 
largely used until about 70 A.D., when Vespasian and Titus 
began their vast "Flavian" (dedicated in 80 A.D. by an 
enormous beast hunt), now among the chief wonders of Rome. 
Common report has it that thousands of Titus's Jewish cap- 
tives had to toil first on the masonry and then for the most 
part to lose their lives fighting one another in the opening 

To avoid prolixity any description of this vast structure 
must be very brief: it stands an oval cylinder, its outer 
major diameter 620 feet ; and the greatest diameter of its 
inner arena 287. Its innumerable blocks of travertin are 
bound together by metal clamps ; the exterior is faced with 

1 Taken from the "Gladiator Gossip" at Trimalchio's Dinner in 
Petronius's " Satyricon. 1 ' 

The Public Games 


marble and adorned with hundreds more of those statues 
which populate Rome. The structure rises 157 feet in four 
stories. The lower three of these tiers are composed each of 
a series of eighty arches backed by piers. In the first story 
the flanking columns are Doric, the second Ionic, the third 
Corinthian. The fourth story has no arches but merely 

FLAVIAN AMPHITHEATER (COLOSSEUM): exterior, present state. 

windows and pilasters of the " composite " order. Between 
these upper pilasters project stone brackets which hold 
lofty wooden masts for the great awnings that stretch over the 
arena. These masts and awnings (red, blue, and yellow) 
when spread out under a brilliant sky, make the Flavian look 
somewhat like an enormous galley under a cloud of sail 
the effect, of course, being heightened by the sheen of the 
marbles of the exterior and the garish paint and gilding cover- 
ing the statues. 

396 A Day in Old Rome 

336. Exterior and Ticket Entrances to the Flavian Amphi- 
theater. Outside of the Amphitheater is a wide circular 
area whereon converge many thoroughfares. This open 
space is scattered with huckster's booths and with small 
ticket stands much like those around many amusement places 
in another age. 1 Here one can place wagers, purchase pro- 
grams for the day, obtain food to consume between the 
events, and very probably buy or hire cushions in case the 
stone benches prove too hard. 

Also on the outside and close to the foot of the main struc- 
ture runs a high wooden palisade. This is to aid in control- 
ling the crowds. You go in at one or two entrances, showing 
your tickets, then circle the masonry until you reach one of the 
staircases, located under every fourth arch, and next you can 
promptly mount to your reserved seat in one of the seventy- 
six sub-sections (cunei). 

337. Interior Arrangements of the Flavian. Once inside, 
the admirable arrangements of the structure impress the 
visitor no less than its enormous mass. Everything con- 
verges upon the central arena ; even from the topmost seats 
one can see all the details of the contests below. The seats 
are divided into three great terraces, so easily accessible by 
the stairways and corridors that the fifty thousand specta- 
tors can pass in and out with the minimum of confusion. 
The lowest tiers, made of marble and comfortably cushioned, 
are reserved here as elsewhere for the senators ; and for the 
editor (the giver of the contests), his fellow magistrates, the 
chief priests, and the Vestal Virgins, there are seats of pecul- 
iar honor directly upon the podium, the crest of the twelve- 
foot wall girding the arena ; seats which are protected alike 
from chance missiles and from the leap of desperate beasts by 
a heavy ^trellis-work of gilded metal. 

1 As we know from paintings showing the surroundings of the Amphi- 
theater at PompeiL 

The Public Games 397 

Above this podium like the billows of a frozen ocean rise 
the enormous tiers of masonry seats; first those for the 
equites, then the great mass for the paying spectators, then 
the space crowded with wooden benches for the slaves and 
least select plebeians. An open gallery runs around the 
entire summit of the benches and here alone, by a restriction 
doubtless often lamented, women are allowed to watch the 
contests from afar, unless they are Vestal Virgins or ladies of 
the Imperial family, with the special privilege of the podium. 

All the arches, stairways, sections, and tiers are numbered. 
If you have a ticket, it may read " VI th section (cuneus), 
lowest row, seat No. 18," marked upon a round or flat piece 
of bone. The attendants are lynx-eyed for impostors, but 
legitimate visitors are quickly seated. A detachment of 
sailors from the fleet of Misenum shifts the enormous awnings 
so that the thousands 1 can sit comfortably in the shade while 
a full blaze of sunlight falls on the arena. 

By the middle of the morning the multitudes are in place ; 
Cluentius the Prsetor, with full official magnificence, is in the 
central box of the podium ; and strong detachments of Prae- 
torians have been quietly distributed in certain half -concealed 
guard inclosures near the lower railing for gladiators have 
been known to mutiny and desperate lions can leap very high. 

338. Procession of Gladiators. Presently now trumpets 
and cymbals announce the procession which files through one 
of the four gates leading directly into the arena. The gladia- 
tors, some forty in number, march two and two, nearly naked 
save for their glistening armor; knitted foreheads, white 
teeth, wolfish scowls, magnificent physiques are displayed by 
all of them. From far up the applauding benches they can 

1 Ordinarily it is stated that there was room for about 87,000 persons in 
the Flavian Amphitheater. There were seats, however, for only some 
50,000, although possibly 20,000 more could find standing room in the 
great upper sections. 

398 A Day in Old Rome 

be recognized, and many favorite retiarii and Thraces are 
met with a storm of cheering. 

The company marches solemnly down the arena led by an 
enormous lanista, one of their trainers, the scarred hero of all 
the youth of Rome. Before Cluentius on the podium they 
halt and flourish their weapons defiantly. Everybody 
knows that they have just taken their fearful oath " to be 
bound, to be burned, to be scourged, to be slain, and to 
endure all else required of them as proper gladiators, giving 
up alike their souls and their bodies." * 

339. Throwing a Criminal to the Beasts. The Animal 
Hunt. However, the contests do not begin immediately ; 
there is a preliminary spectacle in store. The Praetor's 
friend, the City Prsefect, most luckily has handed over to 
him a vicious freedman caught maltreating his patron's 
lady. The wretch, of course, deserves death : how proper, 
therefore, that he can be made to amuse more honest folk by 
his very exit ! Into the middle of the arena they lead him, 
a pitiful gibbering object, half-dead already with fright. 
The guards strike off his fetters, thrust a cheap sword into his 
hands, and themselves hastily retire into one of the numerous 
caged chambers lining the arena. A tense stillness for an 
instant holds the Flavian. 

Suddenly the rattle of chains is heard. In the very center 
of the sands (part of which are over wooden substructures) 
the arena opens ; a cage appears lifted by pulleys, and then is 
opened by some mechanism. Forth bounds a tawny lion, 
lashing his tail and growling with hunger and rage. The 
unskilled victim has been given a sword with the vain prom- 
ise that if he can actually kill the lion his own life will be 
spared. His chances are infinitesimal, but a few desperadoes 
have thus actually saved themselves. 

1 The regular gladiatorial oath. 

The Public Games 899 

Will the prisoner fight? To the infinite disgust of the 
thousands he collapses upon the sands in sheer terror before 
the lion can so much as strike him. The beast finishes his 
life almost instantly. The multitude hoot and curse they 
have been cheated of their passionate desire to see a human 
victim struggling in desperate combat with the great beast. 
Fortunately, they remind themselves, this is only the begin- 
ning of the performance. 

If one need not moralize, one need not linger. After the 
sacrifice of the criminal there are more beasts turned loose in 
the arena. Of course, no Praetor can be expected to show the 
hundreds of animals which an Emperor will exhibit in his 
greater games, but Cluentius has done the thing very respect- 
ably. He has in all ten bears, eighteen panthers, five lions, 
and six tigers. 

First the animals are goaded on to fight one with another. 
A bear is torn to death by a lion, but kills the lion in a last 
mortal hug. Then the trumpet sounds some of the 
gladiators rush into the arena. The arena is now covered 
with frightened, snarling, reckless beasts. Even with keeu 
weapons and skill, it is desperate work to slay them. One 
fine young German slips as a tiger bounds on him. His life 
is crushed out at the very foot of the editor's stand. One 
panther, driven frantic, with a terrific leap almost clears the 
trellis directly before a Vestal Virgin; there is a general 
scream and recoil from the podium as the luckless beast drops 
back upon the spear of a hunter. 

340. Interval in the Contests: Scattering of Lottery 
Tickets. At last the venatio is over. All the beasts have 
been killed with reasonable skill, and barring only the Ger- 
man, with no accidents. It is now noon and a comfortable 
intermission follows. Food has been brought by many, or is 
passed about by hawkers. Cluentius, with great condescen- 
sion, remains in the editor's seat, and dines in public so that 


A Day in Old Rome 

everybody present can go home boasting merrily, " We have 
been to prandium with the Prsetor ! " 1 

After hunger has been appeased the spectators begin to 
grow restive. It is the immemorial privilege of the crowds 
to shout out whatever they wish in the Circus or Amphithea- 
ter. An unpopular Commissioner of the Grain Supply is 
seen rising in the podium ; instantly the great awning quakes 
with the hootings. There is even a volley of date and olive 
stones; when, luckily for the Commissioner, the Prsetor 


orders the attendants to begin scattering lottery tickets along 
the benches. 

Instantly all else is forgotten ; dignified men scramble over 
one another. In the free benches there are several genuine 
fights and many a torn toga or lacerna. The winning tickets 
to-morrow will draw jars of wine, packages of edibles, or even 
quite a few denarii in cash ; but if the editor had been the 
Emperor the prizes could well have been fine jewelry, pictures, 

1 Augustus once protested against the custom of eating in the amphi- 
theater as being undignified and said he would prefer to go away and 
return. "That is all right for you, 1 ' answered his hearer, "but your seat 
is sure to be kept for you !" 

The Public Games 401 

beasts of burden, tidy sums of money, or even as the grand 
prize a small villa. 

This distribution silences all the discordant howlings ; and 
the people are further amused by a kind of theatrical pageant, 
some popular pantomimes giving the Judgment of Paris in a 
clever and not inelegant manner, without scenery in the 
broad arena. After that two ostriches are unloosed and the 
crowd is put in an excellent humor while four Moorish riders 
on shining desert steeds chase down the speeding, doubling 
birds and finally lasso them. All is at last ready for the 
real business of the day the gladiators. 

341. Beginning the Regular Gladiatorial Combats. 
The hunters of the beasts, duly reenforced by many others, 
reenter the arena again in grim procession. Approaching 
the editor's seat on the podium they can be seen passing up 
their weapons for Cluentius, to let him satisfy himself that 
every edge is sharpened beyond the possibility of shamming. 
He hands back each spear or sword with a nod, then the long 
file straightens and every combatant lifts his right arm : 
" Aw y prcetor! " sounds the deep chant, " morituri te salute- 
mm!" " Ave!" answers Cluentius gesturing haughtily. 
" Low-browed scoundrels," mutters Calvus to a fellow sen- 
ator ; " Most of them are lucky to end up this way and to 
escape the cross. Ah ! they begin." 

First, however, to get well limbered, wooden swords are 
handed about, and the troop fence with one another skilfully 
yet harmlessly; but the people are waxing impatient 
" Steel ! Steel ! " rings the shout from the whole amphi- 
theater, and the dense array of women in the upper gallery 
is calling it as fiercely as the men on the ocean of benches. 
A terrific blast of trumpets sounds from mid-arena, and a 
gigantic lanista acting as a kind of umpire motions with his 
spear. Soon every heart in the myriads is thrilled by the 
clash of weapons. 


A Day in Old Rome 

Cluentius (an unoriginal though free-spending magistrate) 
has arranged a very conventional series of combats. First 
two Britons dash about in chariots pelting each other with 
javelins. Their armor turns the darts for long, then one of 
the horses is wounded and while his driver is struggling to 
control him another missile strikes through a joint in the 
warrior's armor. He totters in the car while all the amphi- 


theater rises and yells together " Habetl " " He's got it ! " 
and then as the poor wight tumbles back into the sands, 
" Peractum est! " " He's done for ! " 

Immediately there appears a grotesque figure, arrayed as 
Charon, the dead man's ferryman. He bears a hammer 
wherewith he strikes the body of the victim to see if he is 
counterfeiting death. The fallen chariot warrior stirs not 
and " Charon " with a long hook drags away the corpse 
into one of the dens under the podium. The benches are 
now leaping, gesticulating, and yelling the noise is inde- 

The Public Games 


scribable, and Cluentius's friends hasten to tell him that the 
combats have started admirably. 

342. Mounted Combats: the Signals for Ruthlessness 
and Mercy, The surviving charioteer disappears amid 
plaudits. In his place ride out four horsemen; and two 
mounted duels can thus take place at either side of the arena. 

Virgins in front seats, turning " thumbs down." 

One pair contend evenly and stoutly, but the other contest 
soon ends the less skilful rider is dashed from his seat 
by his opponent's sword, and is so hurt he can barely lift 
himself upon the sands. The victor leaps down and stands 
over him waving his reddened blade, while his disarmed victim 
in sheer helplessness raises the right hand, the fist clinched 
except for one upraised finger the demand for " Mercy 1 " 
The conqueror obsequiously looks toward his employer 
Cluentius upon the podium, and the Prater, bound to be 

404 A Day in Old Rome 

gracious to the populace, motions somewhat inquiringly 
toward the spectators let them decide ! If the defeated 
gladiator had fought more gamely and had striven to rise 
and renew the fight, possibly enough white handkerchiefs 
the token of mercy would have been waved to warrant 
the editor in flourishing his own also ; but the fellow had 
collapsed too easily and the mood of the crowd demanded 
blood. "Ocdde! Occide!" "Kill I Kill I" is the yell; 
and thousands of thumbs are ruthlessly pointed downward. 
Cluentius's own thumb is pointed down likewise. The victor 
raises his weapon and without scruple plunges it in the breast 
of the vanquished, who sustains the honor of his profession by 
receiving the mortal blow without flinching. 

Again the Charon enters with his hook and clears the arena. 
In the interval the other mounted duelists, cool and expe- 
rienced warriors, have partly suspended their combat and 
now they profit through their comrade's death by the um- 
piring lanista's declaration of a draw. The people are sated 
for an instant and Cluentius nods approval as the two ride 
out ; he is inwardly glad to spare them, because the owners 
of dead gladiators have to be indemnified. 

343. Combats between Netters (Retiarii) and Heavy- 
Armed Warriors (Thracians). So combat follows combat, 
while the sands grow red and one warrior falls simply by 
slipping upon the gore. The suffocating fumes of blood rise 
through the bars of sunlight under the great awning. The 
people grow more and more excited. There will be hun- 
dreds of beggars to-night in Rome on account of the reckless 

At last the trumpets sound for what is always the crowning 
feature of the exhibition the chief thing which the multi- 
tudes have really waited all day to see ten retiarii are to 
fight ten " Thracians/' The retiarii (" netters ") wear not 
the least armor. They carry nothing but three-pronged 

The Public Games 405 

lances and thick nets, which last they endeavor to fling over 
their adversaries, entangle them, and then stab with their 
tridents ere they can cut loose. The " Thracians " have 
heavy suits of armor and formidable swords. 1 If a netter 
misses his cast, there is nothing for him to do but to fly for 
dear life. The sight of a powerful, armed Thracian toiling 
after the leaping, dodging retiarius is a source of universal 
joy to the amphitheaters. The people rise on the benches 
and join in a kind of intoxication and blood orgy. " Verbera! 
Verbera! Occide! Decide!" "Lay on! Kill !" rises as a 
thunder to heaven. 

344. End of the Combats : Rewarding the Victors. It 
profits not to dwell on the half hour which follows. Plenty 
of skill, valor, and swiftness are shown alike by netters and 
by heavy-armed warriors. One by one part of the twenty 
drop, and for a while the passions of the people permit no 
mercy. The Charon appears several times; but there is a 
young Spanish netter whose nimbleness and reckless courage 
win great favor, and many are muttering, " We want to see 
him again." There is also a very experienced Thracian whose 
owner will demand from Cluentius a round indemnity, if 
the fight is pushed to a finish and his precious chattel is 

^As a result when four wounded men together drop their 
weapons and signal for mercy, white handkerchiefs begin 
waving all over the amphitheater and Cluentius is glad to 
shake out his also. The combats are over. The victorious 
gladiators, if they are unhurt enough to stand, are led before 
the podium and to each are handed palms of victory. 

There is furthermore a crowning ceremony. One Certus, 

1 There were at least two other types of heavy-armed gladiators who 
are often mentioned the "Samnites" and the " Mynnillones " ; but 
it hardly seems profitable to examine the small particulars in which their 
arms differed from those of the "Thracians." 

406 A Day in Old Rome 

a very famous netter, has by previous understanding taken 
only a formal part in the combats. Now, while the whole 
multitude leaps up to acclaim him, Cluentius himself rises 
and gives him the wooden sword the sign that he need 
fight and risk his life no more. Henceforth Certus will 
become himself no doubt a lanista, and train hundreds of 
other brawny youths to yield up their lives for the amuse- 
ment of Rome. 

The amphitheater empties from all its numerous vomitoria. 
The crowd goes home well contented, praising Cluentius and 
hoping he will be assigned a fine province to govern. True 
it has not been as if the Emperor were present then there 
might have been two hundred or more gladiators, an enor- 
mous slaughter of beasts ; fountains could have played in the 
arena to refresh the air, and perfumes could have been scat- 
tered from the awnings ; or the arena might easily have been 
flooded for a sea fight between two squadrons of small galleys. 

Nevertheless, Cluentius has done very well for a mere 
Praetor ; and he will have to pay indemnity for about four- 
teen of his forty gladiators, a very fair average to get butch- 
ered. " It has been a pleasant enough holiday (say many) 
in a toiling and busy world, and the rumor goes that for the 
next Ides at the Consul's games they have rounded up a whole 
gang of robbers who will all be fed to the lions ! " 



345. Religious Symbols Everywhere in Rome. The 
circus races and the amphitheater butcheries are nominally 
in honor of some god. It is perhaps Vulcan in whose name 
Cluentius has hired the gladiators to slaughter one another. 
Everywhere about Rome are imposing temples and lesser 
shrines, and there are almost more statues of gods and demi- 
gods than there are people in the swarming streets. The 
symbolic snakes for the Lares of the locality or of the house- 
hold, are painted upon thousands of walls. All this would 
indicate that the Romans of the Empire are extraordinarily 
religious. How far does this outward seeming correspond to 
the actual facts ? 

346. Epicureanism and Agnosticism among the Upper 
Classes. If we penetrate the life of men like Publius Calvus 
and others of the upper circle, apparently we are dealing with 
persons who are almost, if not complete, agnostics. Some 
are cheerful Epicureans who formally deny that there are 
any deities that concern themselves with mortal affairs, and 
who for their own part look upon the world as a chance 
aggregation of atoms, and upon life as one physical sensation 
after another with nothing later awaiting a man but eternal 
slumber in the grave. Moral " laws " merely exist to adjust 
human relationships, so that you can win the maximum en- 
joyment from day to day. 

Theories like this can be justified in sonorous, noble lan- 
guage, as in the great poems of Lucretius, but the underly- 



A Day in Old Rome 

ing philosophy remains the same. Cluentius, the Praetor, 
whose library is crammed with Epicurean writings, has, in 
fact, just been ordering chiseled on his ostentatious funeral 
monument, " Eat, drink, enjoy yourself the rest is nothing." l 
347. Stoicism: Revival of Religion tinder the Empire, 
Calvus himself, a decidedly practical man not too fond of 

MAISON CARRIE, N?MES, FRANCE: the best preserved temple of the 
Roman type in existence. 

nice speculations, takes greater pleasure in the theories of 
the Stoics. The stern teaching that " duty " is the be-all 

1 An actual Roman epitaph. The ^Epicurean theory was capable of 
statement in much more pleasing language than is given above, but the 
effect of such a philosophy upon the ordinary human viewpoint and 
conduct was inevitable. 

At the Roman colony of Thamugade in Africa, a checkerboard was 
found scratched in the pavement of the Forum, and beside it this plebeian 
version of the Praetor's inscription: "To hunt, to bctihe, to gamble^ to 
laugh thcd's living ! " 

The Roman Religion 409 

and end-all of life, and that true freedom and happiness come 
only by a scrupulous discharge of every obligation, appeals 
strongly to many hard-headed Romans. It fits in well with 
their old native religion, and they accept it without much 
abstract philosophizing. But the " God " discussed by 
Zeno, Cleanthes, and the later Stoics is only a hard, imper- 
sonal, resistless force, " Eternal Law " under another 
name. He is in nowise a merciful Heavenly Father, any 
more than he is a youthful, beauteous, and very human 
Apollo. Calvus, in short, is hardly more convinced than 
his friend Cluentius, the Epicurean, that there really exists 
any personal deity. 1 

However, religion as an outward institution, has been 
steadily gaining under the Roman Empire. Probably never 
were there ever more unabashed atheists than such person- 
ages as Sulla and Julius Caesar in the last decades of the 
Republic, men not without pet superstitions perhaps and 
a belief in their " stars/' but who were almost cynical in 
their expressions of disbelief in any ruling Providence, and 
to whom temples and worship were only convenient political 
engines for befooling the mob. 

Augustus nevertheless was probably somewhat more of a 
believing man himself, and he grasped the enormous value of 
reinvigorating the old cults, rebuilding the crumbling shrines, 
and finally of rekindling the conviction that there existed a 
stabilizing and avenging host of deities as a means for getting 
moral sanction and support for his new imperial regime. 
Since the battle of Actium, temples have multiplied, priest- 
hoods have been carefully maintained, and solemn religious 
ceremonies and sacrifices have been promoted by the gov- 

1 In all the extensive correspondence of Pliny the Younger there is 
hardly a single reference indicating that he had any religious beliefs, or 
took the least interest in religious matters save as they involved outward 
ceremonies or official policies. 

410 A Day in Old Rome 

eminent ; in short, a great and partially successful effort has 
been put forth to galvanize into a kind of life that early 
" Religion of Numa," which once molded the ideals of the 
little city by the Tiber. 

348. Foreign Cults Intruded upon the " Religion of Numa." 
Religious beliefs and institutions at Rome, however, are 
only in part derived from the cults and forms of old Italy, 
whether Etruscan or Latin. The Greek mythology has 
been so taken over by the poets that often it is hard to 
sift out the indigenous Italian stories from the great mass of 
imported legends in which Jupiter and Juno manifestly are 
merely the Latin names for Hellenic Zeus and Hera. Fur- 
thermore, there has come a perfect influx of oriental gods : 
Egyptian Isis, Syrian Baal, Phrygian Cybele, Persian Mith- 
ras these are merely some of the more important. 

The Roman attitude toward foreign deities is tolerant; 
provided one keeps up the outward forms of reverence for 
the old native deities, it does no serious harm if people feel 
happier because they burn incense to the dog-headed Anubis, 
or to the uncouth gods of Phoenicia. Of course these alien 
rites must not be too gross ; such as were the outrageous old 
Bacchanals who were broken up in 186 B.C., or the Gallic 
Druids who permitted human sacrifice. Otherwise a " for- 
eign superstition " is a matter merely for a contemptuous 
shrug or sneer. 

The result is that the cults seen in Rome under the Empire 
often appear as a vast jumble of things Greek, Levantine, 
Oriental, and even Celtic. The Emperor and Senate seldom 
bother themselves about matters of inward belief ; Rome has 
its gladiators but it has no Inquisition. 

Nevertheless, the old Italian religion is still the official 
cultus of the state. Its forms are carefully cherished ; it is 
insensibly modified but it is never repudiated. There are 
almost the same priesthoods, the same sacred formulas and 

The Roman Religion 411 

machinery of religion as in the days of the Punic Wars. 1 
They are kept up partly out of patriotic pride in all sur- 
vivals of the heroic past, partly because they help the govern- 
ment to control the " mob " and the highly superstitious 
soldiery, partly (it must in fairness be added) because very 
intelligent persons believe that the ancient Italian religion 
somehow contributes to the safety and stability of the Em- 
pire, that when Jupiter Capitolinus falls the dominion of 
Rome will actually fall with him. 

349. Superstitious Piety of the City Plebeians. As for 
the multitude, the enormous population in the insulee, if 
it has little intelligent faith, it has abundant ignorant cre- 
dulity. The outward service of the gods brings good luck. 

If the public rites fail and if blasphemers (like the execrable 
Christians) arise, the corn ships will not get through from 
Alexandria, the Tiber will overflow, the pestilence will sweep 
off thousands and almost equal calamity the favorite 
aurigse and gladiators on the gamblers' tablets will lose in 
the games. If a private man neglects the gods, his shop or 
business ventures can go bankrupt, his children die, his wife 
decamps with a freedman, disease can rack him, premature 
death smite him, and his tomb be demolished to the complete 
obliteration of his memory. Possibly even his ghost will 
drift about unhappily in desert places. Every possible mo- 
tive, therefore, requires governors and governed to stand 
in well with the gods. 

Let us, therefore, examine this "Religion of Numa" 
which is living yet, as the official cultus of Rome ; then a few 
words can be said about its alien competitors. 

360. Roman Religion Originally Developed by Italian 
Fanners. The old Italian farmers who shaped this religion 

1 This apparently continued true until well into the fourth century, 
when the whole pagan system was swept away by Christianity. 

412 A Day in Old Rome 

were singularly lacking in imagination. Very few are the 
myths for which the poets can claim a non-Greek origin. 
The world is conceived of as being full of deities which often 
are so little personified that one cannot be sure of their actual 
sex: " Be propitious, Divine One (numen), be thou male 
or be thou female!" is the proper formula for beginning 
many ancient prayers. 

Some of these divinities, to be sure, are well-defined and 
powerful gods such as Jupiter the Sky-God, Mars the War- 
God, and Juno the potent and matronly spouse of Jupiter. 
Such deities came with the ancestors of the Italians when 
they wandered down from the North into that southern 
peninsula which they occupied many centuries ago. 

Other divinities are ancient adoptions from the Etruscans 
or from the Greeks, Minerva, the protectress of such female 
arts as weaving and spinning and later of the more masculine 
arts, sciences, and learning, is pretty clearly the Minerva of 
the Etruscans, and has caught many attributes from the 
Pallas Athena of the Greeks. Apollo came, perhaps, via 
Etruria, where they called him Aplu, and not directly from 
Hellas, but no temple was built to him until after Greek as 
well as Etruscan influence in Rome had become very strong. 
Diana or Luna (" Madame Moon ") was an old moon god- 
dess, possibly the same as the Etruscan Losna, and only by 
a late and very unfortunate identification has she become 
confounded with Apollo's Greek sister Artemis, the virgin 
huntress on the Arcadian hills. 

One great goddess, however, Venus, is probably a good 
old Italian deity of substantial homely virtues: she is 
still invoked as Venus Cloacina (" Venus the Purifier "), 
when it is necessary to cleanse the" great sewers ; a func- 
tion seldom remembered when giddy youths confound her 
with the Greek Aphrodite, and beg her to help their illicit 
love affairs ! 

The Roman Religion 


361. Native Italian Gods: Janus, Saturn, Flora. The 
Lares and Penates. All these gods and certain other 
familiar deities such as Mercury patron of trade and gain, 
Neptune lord of the sea, Vulcan the clever smith, and finally, 
but in nowise least, Vesta the hearth goddess, and Ceres the 
Mistress of the Corn, make up the official " Great Gods " in 
whose honor the public 
games are held, and to 
whom Emperors and 
Consuls proffer vows 
and sacrifice. 

Highly important 
also is the strictly na- 
tive Italian Janus, the 
two-faced lord of be- 
ginnings and endings, 
probably an ancient 
Sun-God; whom one 
should invoke at the 
opening of every fresh 
day, and in whose 
honor (quite appropri- 
ately) the month of 
January is named with New Year's Day especially desig- 
nated to his festival. 1 There is furthermore Saturn, a rural 
deity, who has been* identified with the Greek Cronos 
("Father Time"); there is Orchus who rules the under- 
world; there is Liber the masculine field god, consort of 
Ceres and sometimes confounded with the Greek Bacchus ; 
there is Bona Dea (" Good Goddess ") a mistress of agricul- 
ture, possibly only another aspect of Ceres ; there is Flora, 

FARMER'S CALENDAR: showing festivals 
each month. 

1 Janus had no Greek counterpart. It was one of the absurdities of 
the late Grco-Latin mythology that his wife Diana (Dia Jana - 
"Madame Goddess Jana") should have been confounded with Artemis. 

414 A Day in Old Rome 

the kindly patroness not merely of the flowers but of all the 
prosaic vegetable gardens ; and there also is Robigus, a ma- 
levolent garden deity who must be propitiated with frequent 
offerings or* he will mildew the crops. 

All these gods (except the evil Robigus) are near and dear 
to the average plebeian, and especially to the farmers. In 
addition there are the Lares and Penates. We have seen 
how they are guardian spirits of the households never 
forgotten in any mansion or upon any social occasion. 

The state has its own " Public Lares and Penates " as well 
as private households ; the former are the spirits of the gal- 
lant patriots of old like the first Brutus, Cincinnatus, Camil- 
lus, and Scipio Major. The second are the immortal " Twin 
Brethren " Castor and Pollux, who have ridden to rescue 
Roman armies on many a hard-fought field. No public sac- 
rifice can avail unless at least formal reference is made to the 
public Lares and Penates along with the special god receiving 

Reenf orcing these divinities is a whole host of special rural 
deities, who, in a country still very dependent on agriculture, 
receive special honor in all the profitable villas and farms 
crowding up to the gates of Rome ; Faumis and Lupercus are 
herdsmen's gods well matching the Hellenic Pan ; Silvanus 
presides over the woodlands and timber-lots, Pales is a much 
beloved shepherd's god, Pomona cares for the orchards, Ver- 
tumnus for the normal change of the seasons ; Anna Perena 
is the goddess of the circling year ; and Terminus takes care 
that the boundary stones (so important to farmers) are not 

862. Personified Virtues as Gods: Cold and Legalistic 
Character of the Roman Religion. However, these deities 
are increased by a great host of personified moral and civic 
qualities. Nothing is easier in Rome than to assume that 
every desirable virtue must have some kind of a numen 

The Roman Religion 


(divine potence) behind it. Around the city one can find 
temples, e.g. to Honor, Hope, Good Faith, Modesty, Concord, 
Peace, Victory, Liberty, Public Safety, Youth, and Fame. 
This is only a minor part of the list. 

Church of Sancta Maria del Sole, Rome. 

It is assumed in fact that every act or process of human life 
has its special numen who can be invoked to make that act 
successful. Thus after young Sextus, Calvus's son, was born, 
his very pious nurses first invoked Vaticanus who opened his 

416 A Day in Old Rome 

mouth for his first cry, then Cucina who guarded his cradle, 
then Edulia and Potina who taught him to eat and drink, 
Stabilius who aided him first to stand up, and Abeona and 
Adeona who watched over his first footsteps " going " and 
" returning." His sophisticated parents doubtless smiled at 
this scrupulous piety, but they did nothing to discourage it. 

These cold impersonal divinities stand to man in a legal 
rather than a theological relationship. Men and the nutnina 
have made a kind of contract so much prayer and ceremo- 
nial sacrifice must be offered in return for so much good favor, 
prosperity, and protection. Do ut des (" I give that you may 
give ") sums up the whole spirit of the Roman religion. 

Numa the alleged founder of so many cults was not a 
prophet or an inspired poet but a king and lawgiver. A wise 
man is always pious ; that is, he always gives to the gods their 
precise due according to carefully set forms, otherwise the 
divinities may evade their part of the contract, just as a mer- 
chant is not bound to execute a bargain hi which the other 
party has failed to do precisely as was stipulated. 

If prayers and sacrifice fail in their purpose, it is reasonable 
to suppose that the fault lies in "the formula and the victims 
employed. The pig, sheep, or other victim must then be 
sacrificed over again with greater scrupulosity. On the other 
hand, willful neglect of worship is as surely punished by the 
gods as willful neglect of paying one's debts is punished 
by the Prsetor. The fate of the impious will be somewhat 
like that of the absconding debtor, only much more dreadful. 

Needless to say this " Religion of Numa" contains no 
more spirituality than the hard stones which pave the Forum. 
It does, however, put a genuine premium upon the rigid 
performance of duty, and thereby sometimes reacts favorably 
upon human conduct. 

353. Priestly Offices : Little Sacrosanct about Them. 
For these necessary ceremonies mankind requires priests, 

The Roman Religion 417 

but they are not revered interpreters of the divine will, nor 
are they mysterious mediators between Providence and men ; 
they are rather attorneys employed by men to represent 
them competently in their dealings with the divinities. 

Small religious matters, the minor private sacrifices, etc*, 
can be attended to without a priest, just as you do not need a 
jurisconsult to assist in petty purchases. Greater religious 
matters, private and still more if public, however, require 
experts to see that the right formulae are spoken and sacri- 
fices proffered. Any Roman of flawless birth and of good 
character is eligible for most of the priesthoods, although 
there are a few reserved for the narrow circle of the old 
patrician families. Holding these religious offices does not 
ordinarily imply dropping one's secular interests or having 
the least philosophical belief in the ceremonies so carefully 
performed. Julius Caesar was Pontifex Maximus while he 
was Proconsul of the Gauls, and while he was a firm disbe- 
liever in the existence of any gods at all. 

Of course every small temple has to have its proper custo- 
dians whom we may call " priests," to attend to the private 
sacrifices ; and there are besides plenty of unofficial diviners 
and soothsayers who can answer your question, " Is this a 
lucky day for the wedding of my daughter? " or " Do the 
omens warn against buying this farm ? " The great public 
ministers of religion, however, are really officers of state, ap- 
pointed by the Emperor, 1 and usually they are grouped in fa- 
mous " Sacred Colleges " wherein the members hold office for 
life. Ordinarily the persons thus honored are distinguished 
senators selected after an honorable civil and military career. 

354. The Pontifices. On the whole the greatest official 
glory comes to the fifteen pontifices. Not merely do they 

1 Under the later Republic these sacred colleges were filled according 
to the majority vote of 17 tribes of the people, selected by lot from the 
entire 35 tribes into which the Comitia Tribute was divided. 

418 A Day in Old Rome 

possess the general oversight of everything concerning cultus, 
but they have as their chief colleague the Emperor himself, 
who always holds the post of Pontifex Maximus head of 
the Roman religion. 

Before Julius Csesar reformed the calendar the pontifices 
had the important task of settling each year what days were 
to be dies fasti, whereon alone legal business could be lawfully 
conducted, and they have still the power to interfere in almost 
any doings concerning sacrifice, ritual, temple properties, etc. 
Their head, the Pontifex Maximus, has particularly to watch 
over and control the Vestal Virgins ; and the college at large 
still has the custody of the famous Libri Pontificates, the 
" Pontifical Books," famous and ancient volumes containing 
instructions for all kinds of unfamiliar religious rites and 
procedure in strange religious emergencies. 1 

365- The Augurs. The pontiffs, however, are really 
" Commissioners for Religious Affairs " rather than actual 
priests, and along with them goes another important group of 
" sacred " personages who seem almost equally unpriestly. 
These are the augurs, the official interpreters of the will of 
heaven; and almost every senator cherishes the hope of 
being appointed to this college, notwithstanding the fact 
that long ago Cicero remarked that " two augurs ought never 
to meet without winking ! " There are sixteen augurs, who 
are entitled to wear the embroidered toga praetexta and to 
carry the sacred crooked staff, the lituus. The science of 
augury, whereof they are supposedly the supreme custodians, 
is something whereon the men of old, especially the Etruscans, 
expended an enormous amount of energy. 

The Italians in general put relatively little trust in astrol- 
ogy and not much more in dreams as revealing the divine 

1 In early times the Pontifex Maximus also kept a kind of dry annals 
of sacred and profane events (Annales Mayyimi} , valuable for the preserva- 
tion of many facts in early Roman history. 

The Roman Religion 419 

intentions. What greatly matters is the flight of birds, the 
strange actions of animals, monstrous births, thunder, mete- 
ors, and like prodigies. Even in Hadrian's day plenty of 
intelligent men will shudder with dread if they behold a crow 
cawing on their funeral monument ; or will give up a journey 
if a black viper shoots across the road just as their carriage 
is starting. 

Sneezing or stumbling furthermore can mean much, and 
before many an atrium the janitor is constantly shouting 
" Dextro pede ! " " Right foot first ! " to every guest entering 
the vestibule. Certain signs are very dreadful; e.g. any 
gathering at which somebody is seized with epilepsy (a 
manifest token of divine anger) must be instantly dissolved. 

If, however, the gods do not speak thus openly, no public 
act should be performed without at least asking the formal 
question, " Is heaven favorable ? " This may be done by 
watching the consecrated chickens while they devour the 
grain as at the opening of the Senate (see p. 340), 1 but more 
elaborate and reliable is a careful watching of the heavens for 
signs. If an augur sees ravens on the right-hand side of the 
sky, the sign is lucky ; but a crow in order not to f orbode 
evil must appear on the left. The actions of eagles, owls, 
woodpeckers, and certain other birds are more complicated. 
Their cries, the manner of their flight, as well as the direction 
whence they come all have to be considered. 

Time fails to describe the careful ritual necessary for the 
augurs, when, at the request of some high magistrate, they 
interrogate the gods to see if heaven is pleased at some pro- 

1 A general in the field had to "take the auspices" to get good omens 
for his army, but of course he could not always have an augur present. 
Once in the first Punic War, Publius Claudius, a consul about to engage 
in a naval battle, was disgusted to be told, "The chickens will not eat." 
"Very well then," he retorted, "let them drink ! " and flung them into the 
sea. To his own ruin and to the vindication of the official religion he 
was thereupon completely defeated by the Carthaginians 1 

420 A Day in Old Rome 

posed official action. It is not necessary, however, to get 
a positively favorable sign ; often it is enough that during 
a suitable interval the augur should fail to observe any un- 
happy bird, any meteor, thunder claps, or the like. This 
propitious interval constitutes a formal " silence " (silen- 
tium) ; and many an augur has shown himself conveniently 
deaf or blind to noises or sights that might prohibit some 
desired deed. Nevertheless the solemn farce is always main- 
tained, for when do Romans ever discard any time-honored 

366. The Flamines. The augurs rank with the pontiffs 
high in public honors, but the most important actual priests 
in Rome are the flamines. There are fifteen flamines dis- 
tributed among the services of the various gods, but three 
rank above all others the flamens of Jupiter, Mars, and 
of Quirinus (deified Romulus), with the first named, called 
more particularly the Flamen Dialis, at their head. 

It is an extraordinary honor to be named Flamen Dialis, 
and Gratia reckons it among the chief of her family glories 
that she has an uncle now enjoying for life this high priest- 
hood. The Flamen of Jupiter is entitled to a curule chair as 
if he were a magistrate, and takes social precedence above 
nearly everybody save the Emperor and the consuls ; he 
also wears the toga prsetexta like other exalted personages, 
although it must be of thick wool woven by the hands of his 
wife. In addition he has to appear, always crowned with a 
special high pointed cap, not unlike the " fool's-cap " of 
other times, and tipped with the apex, a pointed spike of olive 
wood wound with a lock of wool. 

Old Papirius is among the most envied men in Rome, yet 
he complains bitterly of the price he has to pay for his glory. 
He cannot mount a horse, or even look upon an army in 
battle array. He cannot swear an oath, or spend a single 
night away from the city, however comfortable may be his 

The Roman Religion 421 

family villas in the hot season. The cuttings of his hair and 
nails must be carefully preserved and buried beneath an 
arbor felix (lucky tree). He must never eat of or even 
mention a goat, beans, or several other forbidden objects. 

Above all Papirius's wife, the flaminica, whom he had to 
marry with special ceremonies, is indispensable to him in 
many acts of religion and he is forbidden to divorce her, 
although his life with the noble Claudia is none too happy. 
Worse still if she should die, he must immediately resign his 
office. The other fourteen flamines enjoy somewhat lesser 
glories, offset by slightly lesser taboos. They are, however, 
the fifteen most sacred male individuals in all Rome. 

367. The SoZii ("Holy Leapers ") Of less glory than 
the flamines, but nevertheless of venerable sanctity are the 
twelve other priests of Mars, the college of the Salii (" Holy 
Leapers"). To them are committed the twelve holy shields, 
the Ancilice, one whereof is affirmed to have fallen from 

Calvus has an elderly cousin, Donatus, who lately was 
appointed by Hadrian to the Salii. During the last Kalends 
of March nobody cracked a smile when these twelve sedate 
and aristocratic gentlemen, wearing their apex-crowned 
caps, long embroidered tunics, and brazen cuirasses, with 
spear in one hand and the holy shields on the other, went 
through the city stopping in many of the squares and before 
the larger temples and executing violent dances, leaping, 
cavorting, and chanting with loud voice " Salian Hymns " 
verses in such ancient Latin that they hardly understood their 
own shrill jargon. When the round of the city was ended 
and they had danced and sung for the last time, the holy men 
were quite exhausted. 

The consolation for these holy men followed quickly, 
however. That evening they held a grand corporation 
dinner. The augurs are famous for their elaborate banquets 

422 A Day in Old Rome 

worthy of an Apicius, but the Salii on the whole surpass the 
augurs. A Saliares daps " Holy Leaper's dinner " has 
become the synonym for the triumph of good eating. 

368. The Fetiales (" Sacred Heralds ") : Ceremony of 
Declaring War. Calvus himself belongs to a religious 
college of rather waning consequence, but of great antiquity. 
He is a fetial. 

Anciently at least no treaty was binding unless it had been 
ratified with most solemn religious ceremonies. To deal 
with the gods hi international affairs Numa is said, therefore, 
to have established a college of twenty fetiales the holy 
heralds. Their president, the Pater Patratus, represented 
the whole Roman people when it came to swearing the oaths 
and offering the sacrifices for concluding a treaty, and even 
in Hadrian's day some of the ancient usages are maintained. 
A peace has lately been made with the King of Parthia, and 
in the presence of his envoy at Rome the venerable ex-consul, 
the Pater Patratus, took his sacred flints, laid a special wreath 
of the holy " verbena " plant on the altar, and kindled the 
fire for the sacrifice that confirmed the peace. 1 

More important once was the chief herald's duty in declar- 
ing a war ; for it seemed useless to hope for victory unless 
first by legalistic formula the enemy was put in the wrong 
before the gods. The Pater Patratus with at least three of 
his colleagues was expected to march solemnly to the hostile 
frontier, next with due ceremony to recite the wrongs of 
Rome and demand redress and to hurl a spear dipped in blood 
across the boundary ; then and not till then could the legions 
march forth in any offensive war. 

It is a great distance now, however, to the frontier of the 
Empire and the white-headed Pater Patratus keenly dis- 

1 These plants (verbena) seem to have been grown within one special 
inclosure on the Capitol hill. They were carried by one of the fetiales 
known aa the verbenariua. 

The Roman Religion 423 

likes to quit for months his luxurious residence on the Quiri- 
nal ; but legal ingenuity has long since enabled him to pre- 
serve at once his bodily comfort and the good old custom. 
Before the Temple of Bellona in the Campus Martius is a 
bit of ground whereon stands a certain column. When re- 
cently it seemed desirable to declare war on an unneighborly 
German tribe, a captive from these barbarians was duly 
hunted up in the slave market at Rome, and a legal deed was 
solemnly made out transferring this land to the prisoner. 
The spot was now technically " hostile ground/* and the 
Pater Patratus and his fellow fetials all ordered their litters 
and were peacefully taken out to the Temple of Bellona. 
The Germans were carefully summoned to " do the Romans 
right," and no answer coming, the head fetial with all the 
ancient formulas and curses flung the spear into the column. 

The war could now proceed with the gods' full blessing a 
thoroughly Roman proceeding, and very typical of many 
other survivals, religious or secular. 

359. The Arval Brethren (Fratres Arvales). There is an- 
other " ancient and honorable " religious brotherhood the 
Fratres Arvales. There are twelve Arval brethren*, always in- 
cluding the Emperor. In May they hold a three-day festival 
to the Dea Dia. 1 Besides regaling themselves then with an ex- 
traordinarily luxurious feast, they assemble in the grove of the 
Dea Dia and offer to her two pigs, a white heifer, and a lamb. 
Next they clear her temple of all but the necessary priests and 
attendants, and dividing themselves into two bodies of six, 
tuck up their long tunics and execute a solemn dance around 
the holy house, singing meantime a kind of hymn for the 
blessing of the fields, a hymn preserved in such an uncouth 
antique Latin that the meaning of many words is doubtful. 2 

1 A rustic goddess sometimes also called Ops. 

2 For a translation of this "Song of the Arval Brethren," see the 
author's "Readings in Ancient History," vol. II, p. 6. 

424 A Day in Old Rome 

It is a most desirable thing to be one of these " Brothers 
of the Fields." The records of the college are kept with the 
greatest care and their dinners compete with those of the 

These are some only of the holy colleges, membership 
wherein carries marked social prestige. The fifteen " Keepers 
of the Sibylline Books/' the Epulones who arrange many of 
the banquets in honor of the gods, and the Haruspices who 
assist the augurs particularly in interpreting the omens from 
the entrails of slaughtered victims, are all distinguished per- 
sonages. How many of them have one scintilla of belief in 
the deities they address and the rites they execute it were 
most unbecoming to inquire closely ! 

360. Rustic Ceremonies; Soothsaying, Astrologers, and 
Witches. This religion, then, is one purely of outward ritual 
coupled with not a little superstition. In the country the 
farmers at the festival to the Lemures (malevolent ghosts of 
the dead) still may rise at midnight, walk barefoot through 
the house, fill their mouths with black beans which they spit 
forth nine times without looking around, saying each time, 
" With these beans I redeem me and mine." Then they 
clank two brazen vessels together and nine times shout out, 
" Manes depart ! " This is a sample of many similar cere- 

Soothsayers, who are often sheer charlatans, are very 
naturally in constant demand among the unlearned to resolve 
such queries as, " Will my mother-in-law recover from jaun- 
dice ? " or " How long will my husband live and keep me from 
my lover ? " Such rascals usually tell the future by examin- 
ing the lungs of a dove. The entrails of a dog, however, 
are better although much more expensive. 

Among the rich, however, " Chaldsean astrologers " are 
somewhat fashionable, slippery Orientals who know how to 
wheedle the gold out of credulous parvenus, even if the 

The Roman Religion 


official religion sets no great store upon star-gazing. 1 The 
women are inevitably the best patrons of these pretenders, 
but their husbands and brothers often refuse to start on a 
journey or to begin anything else important until assured 
" the horoscope is favorable." Time fails us to tell of the 
employment of Etruscan witches, or of the belief in ghosts 
and goblins. The latter are dreaded by many hard-headed 
epicureans who will argue convincingly that there can be no 
such thing as a god or im- 

361. A Private Sacrifice. 
Nevertheless, with all its 
faults this Roman religion 
has few truly debasing super- 
stitions. There are practi- 
cally no human sacrifices, no 

constant and outrageous use 
of sordid ceremonies, no acts 
or beliefs which actually 
degrade one's manhood or 
womanhood. 2 All is deliber- 
ate, ordered, and, within cer- 
tain pagan limitations, toler- ROMAN ALTAR. 
ably reasonable. 

A typical Roman sacrifice is a dignified and well stand- 
ardized procedure. Only recently Publius Calvus enjoyed 

1 As is well known Tiberius in his ignoble retirement on the Isle of 
Capri surrounded himself t with "Chaldseans" and other types of star- 
gazers and magicians. 

8 There were a few isolated survivals in Italy of the practices of ancient 
savagery. For example at Aricia, in Latium about 16 miles from Rome, 
there was a holy grove of Diana wherein the priest was always a runaway 
slave who obtained his position by killing his predecessor. He was then 
safe from pursuit as long as he remained in the grove, until another 
fugitive slave in turn killed him and so on through a succession of 
tragedies I 

426 A Day in Old Rome 

a birthday, and custom required that all his kinsmen should 
come to congratulate him while he offered to the gods a 
snow-white lamb, in gratitude for another year of life and 
prosperity. The ceremony took place at a small temple of 
Juno near the senator's mansion on the Esquiline, Juno being 
accounted the special patron deity of the Junii Calvi. The 
victim was carefully selected by Calvus himself, who paid an 
extra price for a creature newly weaned and with horns just 
sprouting. Ostentatious freedmen sometimes offered a fat 
bull on their birthdays, and poorer folk merely a small pig, 1 
but a white lamb was a very fitting private sacrifice, not too 
mean, not too pretentious, and fell in perfectly with the Ro- 
man idea of dealing with the gods on honorable business 

362. Ceremony at the Temple. On the day of the cere- 
mony Calvus presented himself at the temple, with his toga 
girded tightly around his body in the special " Gabinian 
Cincture " required in sacrifices. The groups of kinsmen, 
friends, freedmen, etc., all followed decorously. The special 
Flamen of Juno, a friendly senator, appeared with his vest- 
ments and apex, to direct Calvus in the technical details of 
the ceremony, but, be it noticed, the actual priest was Calvus 

After all the company had gathered near the altar and put 
on chaplets of ivy, a public crier (prceco) commanded in 
loud voice, " Let there be silence ! " and a tense interval 
followed, every person holding his breath lest an unlucky 
cough or sneeze should vitiate the whole proceeding. Noth- 
ing ill-omened following, the elder of Calvus's small sons 
acting as camillus (acolyte) extended to his father a silver 
basin of purifying water wherein the latter carefully washed 
his hands, dried them upon a towel borne by his younger 

1 Pigs were very common Roman offerings and were the regular vic- 
tims in most of the rustic sacrifices. 

The Roman Religion 


boy, then drew the great folds of his toga over his head, almost 
but not quite concealing his face. 

At this juncture a flute player standing near promptly 
struck up with a piercing blast, which he continued much of 
the time until the ceremony was nearly over, not to supply 
music but simply to prevent any ill-omened sound from being 



heard. Thereupon other youths led up the lamb. Its little 
horns had been gilded and a heavy garland of flowers twined 
about its neck. It was needful for the creature to seem to 
approach willingly, therefore the halter had to be quite 
slack, but a little fodder spread under the altar made the 
brute only too ready for its fate. 

Calvus approached the victim, and with the flamen at his 
elbow to dictate every detail, took wine, incense, and a mix- 


A Day in Old Rome 

ture of meal and salt, and sprinkled a trifle of each upon the 
hungry creature's forehead. A professional attendant cut a 
few hairs from between the horns and cast them on the burn- 
ing altar. Then again prompted by the flamen, Calvus 
prayed aloud : 

363. A Formal Prayer ; the Actual Sacrifice. "0 
Mother Juno, I pray and beseech thee that thou mayest be 

gracious and favorable to me 
and my home and my house- 
hold, for which course I have 
ordained that the offering of 
this lamb should be made in 
accordance with my vows; 
that thou mayest avert, ward 
off, and keep afar all disease 
visible and invisible, all bar- 
renness, waste, misfortune 
and ill-weather; that thou 
mayest cause my family, af- 
fairs, and business to come 
to prosperity ; and that thou 
grant health and strength to 
me, my home and my house- 
hold!" 1 

It was all very like the formulas used by the lawyers before 
the Praetor. No waste of fine words, but very comprehen- 
sive and no contingency unprovided for. 

When Calvus finished, the temple attendant (popa) stand- 
ing near by asked in set form, " Shall I strike ? " " Strike 
him ! " ordered Calvus. Instantly the attendant smote the 
lamb a single merciful blow on the skull with a heavy mallet. 
The creature dropped dead, and his slayer immediately 

1 Slightly adapted from the form of prayer given in Cato the Elder's 
"Handbook on Agriculture." 


The Roman Religion 429 

knelt and stabbed him with a knife. As the blood ran out, 
it was caught in a basin and sprinkled upon the altar, along 
with some wine, incense, and a consecrated cake. 

The lamb was now promptly cut up, and a crafty-looking 
haruspex inspected the color and form of the still palpitating 
entrails. If these had been declared " unfavorable " in form, 
color, or otherwise, a second lamb must have been procured 
and the whole ceremony perforce repeated until the results 
were fortunate, but the haruspex, certain of his fee, after a 
decent studying of the gall, intestines, and liver, lifted his 
head and said solemnly, " Exta bona! " "The entrails are 
good ! " Thereupon the flamen, hitherto passive or mutter- 
ing formulas, stepped forward, threw wine, meal, and incense 
upon the entrails ; then cast the whole mass of them upon the 
brightly kindled altar-fire. Meantime the actual flesh of 
the lamb was being gathered up by Calvus's servants to take 
home for private consumption. 

Calvus himself now drew the toga up over his head the 
second time, and then called on Juno with loud voice, " since 
thou hast accepted this lamb, duly proffered," to continue 
her tavor on him and his house during the coming year, " in 
which case I vow unto thee another lamb, white and without 
blemish even as is this." He was again, it would seem, the 
lawyer reminding the other party to the contract that by the 
acceptance of the payment proffered, he or she was strictly 
obligated to continue friendly for the next twelve months. 

The ceremony was therewith ended. The flamen raised 
his hand and spoke the solemn word of dismissal, " Ilicet," 
" It is permitted to go." Sacrificer, flamen, spectators, and 
attendants all now hurried away with shout and laughter to 
Calvus's residence, there to join in a fine feast wherein every- 
body received a portion of the slaughtered lamb. 

364. The Vestal Virgins : Their Sanctity and Importance. 
Great are the pontiffs, the augurs, the flamens, and the mem- 


A Day in Old Rome 

bers of the other sacred colleges. But they are all too prag- 
matic and secular to be taken quite seriously when they 
demand religious veneration. There is one Roman college, 
however, which is beyond words holy, at whose claims the 
most godless never scoff, and whose members will keep alive 
the best traditions of the religion of Numa until old Rome 

is tottering to its fall the 
Sisterhood of the Vestal Vir- 

Numa himself, hoary tra- 
dition affirms, instituted this 
body of six holy maidens, 
although no doubt similar 
companies could have been 
discovered in many other 
primitive Italian communi- 
ties. Their origin is clear 
enough. To early man, fire 
was a thing very mysterious 
and very necessary. Before 
the discovery of flint and 
steel it was no trifling matter 
to kindle a new blaze by 
rubbing together a hard stick 
and a soft; every village, therefore, maintained a central 
hearth (focus) where some brands were ever smoldering and 
whither a boy could be sent running for a spark to replenish 
the kitchen fires. 

But beyond all other peoples the old Latins made of this 
homely need a sacrosanct institution and a ritual. The 
Temple of the Fire Goddess was perhaps at first only the 
hearth of the king, and her priestesses were the king's own 
daughters. Then the king disappeared : the Pontifex Maxi- 
mus took his place; and quite naturally just as the high 


The Roman Religion 431 

pontiff's official residence, the Regia, stood on the verge of 
the Forum, the Shrine of Vesta and the home of her maiden 
ministers stood close beside it. 

All across the ages this fire of Vesta has burned, tended with 
inconceivable care ; and for this humble shrine of Vesta and 
the six Vestal Virgins all Romans from Emperor to lowest 
plebeian still retain more genuine reverence than for any thing 
else in the world, not excluding the gilded Temple of Jupiter 
Optimus Maximus crowning the Capitol and its pompous 
Flamen Dialis. 

366. The Temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestals. 
The Temple of Vesta, directly on the verge of the roaring 
Forum and under the shadow of the Imperial Palatine, is an 
ostentatiously small, simple building, with a circular portico 
of pillars and surmounted with a low cupola covered with 
sheets of metal. Often repaired, great pains have been taken 
(so Ovid tells us) to preserve the original " style of Numa." 
Directly behind it, as you go east from the Forum, is the 
Atrium Vesta, the House of the Vestals, noticed when we 
traversed the Heart of Rome. 

Very simple externally, once inside those privileged to 
enter the House discover not merely a fine comfortable dwell- 
ing, suitable for ladies of rank and their numerous female 
attendants, but a very beautiful garden some 200 feet long by 
65 wide. There are spreading trees, winding paths, marble 
seats, fountains and even a tiny grove all within easy 
stone's throw of the very center of the metropolis. 

The need for this garden, however, is obvious. The Ves- 
tals are women of the very highest rank, yet they cannot leave 
Rome in the hot season when nearly all other noble ladies 
flee to their cool villas. The garden is their breathing spot 
and their recompense. Around the garden runs a line of 
statues of the Maxima (Senior Vestals), an imposing array 
of dignified elderly women of die grave Roman type. Here 

432 A Day in Old Rome 

too in the Atrium Vestse, in a little room, is a small hand- 
mill where the sacred virgins themselves can be seen each day 
laboriously grinding the consecrated meal required in the 
cult of the Hearth Goddess. 

Within this house also the six Sisters spend their lives in a 
routine of holy duties, and although the building is not an 
officially consecrated " temple " it is really the most revered 
and sacrosanct spot in Rome. In the Atrium Vestee, there- 
fore, are deposited the wills and other precious documents 
of half the nobility, and the gods pity the wretch who may 
do the place violence, his fate at human hands will be 
awful ! 

366. Appointment of Vestals. This little sisterhood is 
divided always into three categories the novices, the 
active members, the senior Vestals, of two members each. 
When there is a vacancy the Pontifex Maximus makes choice 
among the girls of between six and ten years in the patrician 
families, 1 who have both of their parents living and happily 
married. A girl has to be physically perfect and intellectually 
acute, certain, in short, to do honor to the greatest position 
open to women in Rome. 

The present Maxima is Salvia, a distant kinswoman of the 
late Emperor Nerva. She was appointed many years ago in 
the reign of Titus. There was such competition for the 
vacancy then that several noble families offered their daugh- 
ters, but Salvia was chosen because her parents were on the 
best of terms, whereas her nearest' rival's father and mother 
were known to have quarreled. The high pontiff (Titus) 
solemnly took her by the hand repeating the ritualistic words, 
" I take you to be ' Amata/ that as Vestal Virgin you may 
perform the sacred rites lawful for vestal virgins/' The 

1 This qualification of patrician birth was sometimes waived under the 
Empire, when genuine old-line patricians had become extremely few, but 
great pains were taken as to all the other requirements. 

The Roman Religion 433 

title of Amata was simply honorary. It implied the gentle 
and loving character of the service of Vesta. 

Salvia was immediately led over to the house of Vesta, her 
hair was cut off, and hung upon the sacred lotus-tree in the 
garden ; she was clothed in long white garments with a special 
white band around her head, the holy infula; and next she 
took oath to abide in her office and to maintain her virginity 
not less than thirty years. She was now a lawful vestal, 
withdrawn from the power of her father, and subject only to 
the jurisdiction of the Pontifex Maximus. 

367. Duties of the Vestals : the Maxima. The six ves- 
tals enjoy no sinecure. From the fountain of Egeria by the 
Coelian Hill they must bear all the water required for knead- 
ing their sacred cakes. 1 Daily they must carefully cleanse 
the actual Temple in front of their mansion with a mop, and 
deck it around with laurel. There are various great festivals 
in which they have to play an important part, especially in 
the very important Vestalia held June 9th, when all Rome 
unites to honor the beloved Hearth Mother; and on June 
15th when there is the official cleansing of the Temple, and 
all the refuse of the year is collected and removed with 
scrupulous ceremonies just as a good farmer should cleanse 
his barns before the harvest. 

The chief duty is, however, the simple and gracious task 
of tending the sacred fire. For the first ten years of her sis- 
terhood Salvia was learning her responsibilities in this all- 
important particular ; for the next ten, she, or her associated 
second-class Vestal, had the actual watch-care of the holy 
flame on the maintenance whereof seemed to rest the pros- 
perity of Rome ; after that as one of the two senior Vestals 
she could turn over to her juniors the active duties, confining 

1 Alone of all the important buildings in Rome, the Atrium Vestse had 
no piped water-supply ; everything had to be borne in by the vestals or 
(for non-religious purposes) by their numerous attendants. 

434 A Day in Old Rome 

herself to the general oversight of the sisterhood, When 
the older senior Vestal died she herself became Maxima 
the most important woman in Rome, enjoying a reverence 
and a certainty of tenure by no means shared by every Em- 

368. Punishments of Erring Vestals. To allow the 
sacred fire to go out, by some fearful mischance, is an almost 
unheard-of calamity. The ancient books ordain that the 
responsible Vestal on duty shall first be stripped and scourged 
by the Pontifex Maximus, administering his blows in the 
dark, then two pieces of wood must be taken from a 
" lucky tree " and he must laboriously rekindle the fire with 
elaborate ceremonies. After that other prolonged rites are 
needful to save the state from the results of such a fearful 
" prodigy." 

Such lapses in the service of Vesta almost never occur. 
Slightly more frequent have been charges of breaking the 
vow of chastity. In the few recorded cases the guilty sister 
after trial before the college of pontiffs has been buried alive 
with a kind of funeral ceremony in the " Accursed Field " 
(Campus Sceleratus) just within the Colline Gate. It is 
" bad luck*" actually to put to death a consecrated Vestal, 
but a deep pit is dug and in it are placed a couch, a lamp, and 
a table bearing a little food. Then the guilty woman is 
lowered into the pit and earth heaped upon it. She has 
simply been dismissed from the presence of men : what 
occurs out of all human sight is strictly the affair of gods ! 
Meantime her paramour has been publicly scourged to death 
in the Forum with every form of ignominy. 

The vow of virginity, nevertheless, is not perpetual. After 
thirty years in the service, at an age still far below old woman- 
hood, a Vestal can quit the Atrium, and marry ; but Salvia 
and her sisters seldom dream of such a thing. Public opin- 
ion, though not the law, frowns upon the act, and it means 

The Roman Religion 435 

resigning a position of incomparable importance, honor, and 

369. Remarkable Honors Granted the Vestals. If Sal- 
via, for twenty years at least, has thus taken her duties very 
seriously, she has her great compensation. The Vestal 
Sisterhood is rich with a great corporate income. The mem- 
bers alone of all Romans give their testimony in court with- 
out the least oath. They have the seats of honor at all public 
games and festivals. A lictor precedes each of them every- 
where, securing for his mistress the same public honors 
granted a magistrate, and a magistrate's lictors lower their 
fasces in respectful homage when in a Vestal's superior 

The slightest molestation of these priestesses' persons is of 
course punished capitally. They have the right to intercede 
even with the Emperor in matter of pardons, and they nom- 
inate to sundry public offices e.g. the librarianship of the 
Imperial library, and certain military tribuneships. Finally 
if they chance accidentally to meet a criminal bound for exe- 
cution, upon their demand he must be spared and released 
not out of motives of mercy, but because it is a bad omen for 
the State for any holy Vestal to meet a person formally 
condemned to die. 1 

One crowning honor also Salvia can anticipate: even 
Emperors must ordinarily be buried outside the consecrated 
city limits (pomerium), but the law specifically admits 
Vestals not merely to the glories of a public funeral, but to 
burial inside the Heart of Home itself. What wonder that 
Salvia is loath to quit a post of such glory and power for the 
uncertain prospects of matrimony ! 

Despite all the ceremonies, irrational and vain though they 

1 This did not prevent Vestals from attending the arena spectacles. 
The gladiators and persons thrown to the beasts had in theory a chance 
for life. 

436 A Day in Old Rome 

may seem to a later standpoint, the worship of Vesta, the 
goddess of the honest home, and the corporate life of her six 
maiden ministers remain among the fairest things of the 
Roman Empire. Matters cannot be hopelessly bad, when 
thus, in the center of the great, luxurious, sensual Imperial 
city, womanly purity and orderly virtue are preeminently 



370. Saturnalia : the Exchange of Presents on New Year's 
Day. Could our visit to Rome be prolonged across the 
year we should dwell on such so-called religious festivals as 
the Saturnalia which lasts seven days, beginning the 17th of 
December, when the whole city abandons itself to carnival 
mirth, when slaves for a brief and happy interval put on the 
tall pileus, the liberty cap, are allowed to be very pert to 
their masters, and indulge in all kinds of pranks and liberties ; 
and when people exchange with all their friends semi-comic 
gifts of wax tapers and amusing little terra-cotta images, or 
other gifts of real value such as napkins, writing tablets, and 
dishes of preserved sweetmeats. 1 

More decorous is the ensuing holiday on the Kalends of 
January (New Year's Day) when ceremonious official calls 
are paid on every magnate from the Emperor downward, and 
more gifts are exchanged, often of the highest value. 2 In 
these festivities and distributions of presents can perhaps be 
found the prototypes for the winter holidays of another 
religion and later age. 

371. Multiplication of Oriental Cults. One dare not 
quit the Rome of Hadrian, however, without a cursory in- 
spection of something extremely evident since we began our 

1 It was quite proper to play "April Fool'* jokes at the Saturnalia: 
e.g. to present what seemed a platter of delicious food when all the viands 
were actually of clay. 

* Substantially on the scale of "Christmas presents." 


438 A Day in Old Rome 

explorations on plebeian Mercury Street the foreign re- 
ligions and their temples. 

Very reluctantly did the grave fathers of the old Republic 
admit Anatolian, Syrian, and Egyptian cults into their be- 
loved city. Even unlicensed Greek ceremonies were frowned 
upon and the disorderly orgiastic rites of the Eastern gods 
for long were extremely repulsive to the dignified builders of 
the Commonwealth. But as the Republic declined the for- 
eign cults thrust themselves in and with the coining of the 
Empire all attempts to prohibit them practically disappeared. 
The most the authorities can now do is to see that these 
strange private worships are conducted with a certain degree 
of decency. Rome has never countenanced the vile revel- 
ings of the groves of Syrian Astarte, much less the horrid 
child-burnings of the Phoenician Moloch. 

The votaries of these Eastern gods are not merely Orientals 
who have drifted to Rome. The new religions have a great 
appeal to many persons of good old Latin stock and especially 
to the women. The reason for this is fairly obvious : the 
Roman official religion is a legalistic religion devoid of the 
slightest spirituality. " Sin " except in the sense of reckless 
contract breaking, " communion with God," " reconciliation 
with God," "The Hereafter," "Life Eternal," and like 
phrases are utterly unknown to pontiff, augur, or flamen. 

For intelligent persons to whom neither the Stoic nor the 
Epicurean guesses at the riddle of existence prove satisfying, 
who are torn hi conscience, bowed with bereavement, or 
crushed by disaster, there must be some outlet better than 
that of scrupulously offering a black pig to Mars. Atheism 
can never satisfy for long, and the Oriental religions, ap- 
pealing at once to the love for the mysterious, and to the 
passionate desire for some supernatural explanation of the 
problems of humanity, as a result draw in then- votaries by 
thousands. Some of these worshipers are utterly ignorant 

Foreign Cults 439 

and credulous. Others are men and women of wealth and 
deep learning, who can turn the Syrian or Egyptian jargon 
into elegant Platonic myths, and see, behind the coarse 
Levantine ritual, spiritual allegories which would have 
astonished old Memphis or Tyre. 

372. The Cult of the Deified Emperors. The Imperial 
Government itself has added to this tendency to multiply 
cults it created a new and a very important one, that of 
the " Deified Emperors." Augustus Caesar was far too 
shrewd and matter-of-fact an Italian to permit himself to 
be worshiped as an actual deity within his native land ; but 
he did not discourage Orientals (accustomed to adore almost 
any successful monarch as a " god ") from setting up altars 
to him, and he took a great satisfaction in having his adoptive 
father Julius Caesar officially deified at Rome, and then in 
accepting for himself the glories coming to the son of the 
" Divine Julius." 

Furthermore, even a living Emperor has his genius his 
special guardian spirit, often to be half-confounded with his 
own personality. The worship of Augustus's genius was 
soon an important part of the state religion. Oaths were 
taken by it; an insult to it became the vilest blasphemy. 
If Augustus did not become a god in his lifetime, the aura 
and effluence of divinity assuredly played all around him. 

373. The "Divine Augustus" and His Successors. 

The instant Augustus died a solemn decree of the Senate 
forthwith made him " Divus Augustus," with temples, 
priests, and ritual all the paraphernalia in short of a promi- 
nent member of the Pantheon. Since then in the provincial 
towns the priests of Augustus, Augustdes, are ordinarily 
appointed from among the rich freedmen men of short 
lineage but of great economic influence, who are delighted 
at the trappings and pompous honors awarded this holy 

436 A Day in Old Rome 

may seem to a later standpoint, the worship of Vesta, the 
goddess of the honest home, and the corporate life of her six 
maiden ministers remain among the fairest things of the 
Roman Empire. Matters cannot be hopelessly bad, when 
thus, in the center of the great, luxurious, sensual Imperial 
city, womanly purity and orderly virtue are preeminently 



370. Saturnalia : the Exchange of Presents on New Year's 
Day. Could our visit to Rome be prolonged across the 
year we should dwell on such so-called religious festivals as 
the Saturnalia which lasts seven days, beginning the 17th of 
December, when the whole city abandons itself to carnival 
mirth, when slaves for a brief and happy interval put on the 
tall pileus^ the liberty cap, are allowed to be very pert to 
their masters, and indulge in all kinds of pranks and liberties ; 
and when people exchange with ail their friends semi-comic 
gifts of wax tapers and amusing little terra-cotta images, or 
other gifts of real value such as napkins, writing tablets, and 
dishes of preserved sweetmeats. 1 

More decorous is the ensuing holiday on the Kalends of 
January (New Year's Day) when ceremonious official calls 
are paid on every magnate from the Emperor downward, and 
more gifts are exchanged, often of the highest value. 2 In 
these festivities and distributions of presents can perhaps be 
found the prototypes for the winter holidays of another 
religion and later age. 

371. Multiplication of Oriental Cults. One dare not 
quit the Rome of Hadrian, however, without a cursory in- 
spection of something extremely evident since we began our 

1 It was quite proper to play *' April Fool" jokes at the Saturnalia: 
e.Q. to present what seemed a platter of delicious food when all the viands 
were actually of clay. 

1 Substantially on the scale of *' Christmas presents." 


438 A Day in Old Rome 

explorations on plebeian Mercury Street the foreign re- 
ligions and their temples. 

Very reluctantly did the grave fathers of the old Republic 
admit Anatolian, Syrian, and Egyptian cults into their be- 
loved city. Even unlicensed Greek ceremonies were frowned 
upon and the disorderly orgiastic rites of the Eastern gods 
for long were extremely repulsive to the dignified builders of 
the Commonwealth. But as the Republic declined the for* 
eign cults thrust themselves in and with the coming of the 
Empire all attempts to prohibit them practically disappeared. 
The most the authorities can now do is to see that these 
strange private worships are conducted with a certain degree 
of decency. Rome has never countenanced the vile revel- 
ings of the groves of Syrian Astarte, much less the horrid 
child-burnings of the Phoenician Moloch. 

The votaries of these Eastern gods are not merely Orientals 
who have drifted to Rome. The new religions have a great 
appeal to many persons of good old Latin stock and especially 
to the women. The reason for this is fairly obvious : the 
Roman official religion is a legalistic religion devoid of the 
slightest spirituality. " Sin " except in the sense of reckless 
contract breaking, " communion with God," " reconciliation 
with God," "The Hereafter," "Life Eternal," and like 
phrases are utterly unknown to pontiff, augur, or flamen. 

For intelligent persons to whom neither the Stoic nor the 
Epicurean guesses at the riddle of existence prove satisfying, 
who are torn hi conscience, bowed with bereavement, or 
crushed by disaster, there must be some outlet better than 
that of scrupulously offering a black pig to Mars. Atheism 
can never satisfy for long, and the Oriental religions, ap- 
pealing at once to the love for the mysterious, and to the 
passionate desire for some supernatural explanation of the 
problems of humanity, as a result draw in their votaries by 
thousands. Some of these worshipers are utterly ignorant 

Foreign Cults 439 

and credulous. Others are men and women of wealth and 
deep learning, who can turn the Syrian or Egyptian jargon 
into elegant Platonic myths, and see, behind the coarse 
Levantine ritual, spiritual allegories which would have 
astonished old Memphis or Tyre. 

372. The Cult of the Deified Emperors. The Imperial 
Government itself has added to this tendency to multiply 
cults it created a new and a very important one, that of 
the " Deified Emperors." Augustus Caesar was far too 
shrewd and matter-of-fact an Italian to permit himself to 
be worshiped as an actual deity within his native land ; but 
he did not discourage Orientals (accustomed to adore almost 
any successful monarch as a " god ") from setting up altars 
to him, and he took a great satisfaction in having his adoptive 
father Julius Caesar officially deified at Rome, and then in 
accepting for himself the glories coming to the son of the 
" Divine Julius." 

Furthermore, even a living Emperor has his genius his 
special guardian spirit, often to be half-confounded with his 
own personality. The worship of Augustus's genius was 
soon an important part of the state religion. Oaths were 
taken by it; an insult to it became the vilest blasphemy. 
If Augustus did not become a god in his lifetime, the aura 
and effluence of divinity assuredly played all around him. 

373. The "Divine Augustus" and His Successors. 

The instant Augustus died a solemn decree of the Senate 
forthwith made him " Divus Augustus," with temples, 
priests, and ritual all the paraphernalia in short of a promi- 
nent member of the Pantheon. Since then in the provincial 
towns the priests of Augustus, Augustales, are ordinarily 
appointed from among the rich freedmen men of short 
lineage but of great economic influence, who are delighted 
at the trappings and pompous honors awarded this holy 

440 A Day in Old Rome 

office, and who become, therefore, the ardent supporters of 
the imperial regime. 

Since 14 AJ>. there have been still other gods thus enrolled 
by vote of the Senate notably the "Divine Claudius** 
(" dragged to heaven by a hook," people saicasticaDy re- 
mark, remembering Agrippina's poisoned mushrooms), and 
Hie equally a divine " Vespasian, Htus, Nerva, aad Trajan. 
Their temples and cults are among the most splendid and 
prominent in Rome. In the basilicas and in the govern- 
ment houses (pr&toria) and magistrates* halls all over the 
Empire stand the arrays of statues of these Deified August! 
along with that of the " genius " of the reigning Hadrian 
himself. Every litigant and every witness must cast his 
pinch of incense into the brazier before them and swear by 
their godhead. 

Intelligent men, of course, understand that these Imperial 
"gods" somehow differ in nature from Jupiter, but the 
homage offered to them seems really an affirmation of loyalty 
to the great principles of law and order which bind the vast 
Empire together. Every good Emperor is entitled to expect 
this honor, after a worthy reign. " I think I'm becoming a 
god I " muttered the pragmatic Vespasian while on his death- 
bed. On the other hand the refusal of deification is a form 
of branding a tyrant's memory; and Tiberius, Caligula, 
Nero, and Domitian receive no incense. 1 

The state thus teaches all its subjects how easily new deities 
can be introduced apparently by very human agencies. 
Of the host of Oriental gods that have thrust themselves into 
Rome there are three or four which have won peculiar promi- 
nence; notably the cults of Cybele, Isis and Serapis, and 

1 Owing to rough dealings with the Senate, Hadrian himself came near 
missing deification, but Antoninus won his title of "Pius" by his zeal 
for vindicating his adoptive father's memory. Antoninus Pius himself 
and Marcus Aurelius after him were, of course, promptly deified. 

Foreign Cults 

Mithras. Hiere is also tfae extemely demised sect rf the 

Tfee Crft *rf yfedfee, ifiie ^{Smat Muftwsr. Tiie 
cult df Cyfoele is Ae didest and test Txsmgswel df Ais for- 
group- C/yiaete is am Italic ^owMess wMh iisr noosit 
temple ait Fessinats in Gaiatia. In ifiue oias df tiie 
War nvheoa pdb&c apanicfli mas on. edge, 1ibe 
Masixaass f efcdfoed am in^ge df ItMs " O^reat Modier /of Pes- 

sinus " to E^oaaice mud act up a tonple to Iber mi the 
Hie Hassan 

f ortK, Loawred IMT witii tlie 
df the 

Great Modaer, despite 

niniifw^&m^^m^ refcains 
thii^ about it ttiat is 


9^piastie JOM! am- 
Ewtywiaeie oi^esr 
the city can be met groups 

OI fi^y iypM^S"t^SSff?S| T*^^ \jtKTV'" 

bantes, and especially csf her 

smooth-diedbed, squeaky- 

voiced eunach priests, the GaBl, executing their wild, noisy 

dances with drums, cymbals, and trumpets, and leaping about 

in suits of armor which they dash violently, while uttering 

screams alleged to be inspired. 

In the country districts bands of these Galli are reported 
to drift frequently from village to village, exciting the rustics 
by displays of " mysteries " which are simply a gross hocus- 
pocus, and which often wind up in scenes of sheer depravity. 
Nevertheless, the cult has great attractions for the super- 
stitious. The processions of these effeminate figures with 
redolent locks, painted faces, and soft womanish bearing 
are always able to wheedle the sesterces out of the crowd. 


A Day in Old Rome 

The coarse legends of the Great Mother are furthermore 
caught up by the philosophers and given a refined, meta- 
pfcysical meaning, and among the priests at her temples about 
the city are enrolled many senators and equites, and among 
the priestesses a good many more of these noblemen's wives. 
To be a chanter, drummer, or cymbal player at her great 
spectacular " orgies " has a morbid fascination all the 


more because much of the cult of Cybele worship is so gross 
that words may not describe it. The Great Mother is, there- 
fore, one of the most undesirable of all the gifts offered to 
Rome by the conquered East. 

375. Cult of Isis and Associated Egyptian Gods. Wor- 
thier and more popular with the better classes is the worship 
of Isis. 

The Egyptian story of Isis and Osiris, of the temporary 
death of the latter and the sufferings of the former, a story 
that connected itself with the Greek myths about Demeter 

Foreign Cults 443 

and Dionysus, and also those about Adonis, had become very 
old a thousand years before the founding of Rome. The cult 
was a late invader of Italy ; not until the time of Sulla did it 
figure even as an important private superstition, and on ac- 
count of the marked Oriental tendencies of the Isis worship 
the Senate for long discouraged it ; nevertheless the stately 
ritual and the appeal of the mysterious made the cult ex- 
tremely popular with the multitude. 

In vain in 50 B.C. the consul Lucius ^Emilius himself (his 
superstitious lictors hesitating) struck the first blow with the 
ax to demolish a prohibited Isis temple. Augustus had to 
content himself merely with forbidding the erection of such 
buildings within the oificial pomerium of Rome, but these 
could multiply in the suburbs, and by the time of Vespasian 
practically all restraints disappeared. 

Everybody now frequents the shrines of Isis, and many of 
the noblest citizens and matrons are among her initiates. 
Her great temple in the Campius Martius is among the 
stateliest in Rome and every morning before its doors are 
arrayed a perfect host of votaries. 

376. Ceremonies at an Isis Temple. If we desire, it is 
easy to witness a large part of the ritual, although the mean- 
ing of the allegories is refused the unelect. 1 Before day- 
break the shaven-skulled priests, clothed in trailing robes 
of snow-white linen, enter the temple by a side entrance and 
throw back the great central doors, although a long white 
curtain still hangs across the interior. The multitude of the 
devout now stream into the temple. The curtains whisk 
aside, and a statue of the goddess, a majestic female sculp- 
tured somewhat in the Egyptian style, with her head crowned 

1 Much of what we know of these cults of the pagan Orient cornea from 
early Christian writers who have no hesitation in betraying the " Mys- 
teries/' but whose statements naturally are often biased and very incom- 

444 A Day in Old Borne 

with a lotos flower and in her right hand & holy rattle (m- 
Iraaa), is exposed to view. At her side stands her son 
Horns, a naked boy, holding his forefinger in his month, a 
lotus flower also upon his head, and a horn of plenty in his 
left hand 

The worshipers now stand or sit on the stones for a fong 
time m silent prayer and ccHitemplalion; while tihe new 
fight of the rising son streams athwart the silent columns 
and draperies of the gifcat temple. f*resendy a poest 
appears bearing a golden vessel rf holy water from tie 
Nile, and he poors it over a sacrifice of fruits and flowers 
upon the altar standing before the images. The worshipers 
all prostrate themselves in awe, then rise. Hie ceremony 

This is the ordinary side of the Isis worship but at times 
there lack not violent dances; processions of all manner of 
harlequin participants, men itobed as soldiers, hunters, or 
gladiators, women leaping in white gauzy garments, and 
shaven priests bearing haoly vessels usually wrought with 
Egyptian hieroglyphics, and carrying especially as center f 
afl the tumult a sacred snake, lifting its wrinkled and venom- 
ous head upon an ark of burnished gold. 

The Isis worship appeals often to men of high intelligence 
who grow weary and disgusted at the failure of secular phi- 
losophy to solve the great problems of existence. An elab- 
orate explanation exists for all these symbols; one might 
even add a spiritual meaning. It is even claimed that Isis 
is simply " Nature," and that her cult is merely the worthiest 
expression of " the One Sole Divinity whom the whole earth 
venerates under a manifold form." 

To the initiates (into whose esoteric lore we cannot pene- 
trate) is promised in this world a very fortunate life and that 
then " having accomplished the span of this existence, they 
shall descend to the realms below, and even there, dwelling 

Foreign Cults 445 

as they shall in the Elysian fields, they shall frequently adore 
me the goddess." * 

377. Cult of Scraps and of Other Oriental Gods. The 
Isis worship thus has its nobler side, Not unworthy too is 
that of her Graeco-Egyptian associate Serapis, the patron 
deity of Alexandria, who has a considerable foiowing in. Borne, 
acclaiming Mm as " lord of all the elements, dispenser of all 
good and master of human life," Unfortunately, however, 
along with these deities there goes a whole swarm of lesser 
Oriental divinities who do nothing but provide fine f*hfrn/H=^ 
for the scoffers and the charlatans. 

Hie priests of the dog-headed Nile-god Anubis are de- 
nounced by Juvenal as a " linen-dad and cheating crew/' 
who levy on sflly women, and who will declare any infamy to 
be morally " pardoned " for the bribe of a fat goose or some 
thick slices of cake. Korybus, Sabazius, the bull Apis, and 
the Syrian Baal cannot pretend to be better. Many a decent 
Hainan beholding their worship will reecho Plutarch's recent 
words, M Better mot to believe in a god at aH, than to cringe 
before a god who is worse than the worst of men." Never- 
theless there is one Oriental cult now penetrating Borne which 
seems to lay stress on moral purity and on Hoble living 
the religion of Mithras. 

378. The Cult of Mithras : Its Relative Hobffity. Mith- 
ras is by origin the Sun God of the Zoroastrian Persians. 1 
He is the " fiend smjter " ; the beneficent light which dis- 
perses mental as well as material darkness. Sol Invidus 
" The All-Conquering Sun " his votaries call him, but in 

1 The quotations are from Apuleius, "The Golden Ass" (book XI, 
passim), and are given at greater length in the author's "Readings from 
Ancient History," vol.. II (Rome), pp. 282-284. 

* Technically he was the highest archangel tinder the one actual god 
Ahura-Maida, but the Persian "magi" soon attributed to him practical 


A Day in Old Rome 

statues and pictures he is commonly represented as a hand- 
some youth, wearing the Phrygian cap and mantle, and kneel- 
ing upon a bull which has been thrown upon the ground, and 
whose throat the god is cutting. In the Mithras pictures 
there often appear also the mysterious figures of a dog, a 
serpent, and a scorpion, all somehow connected with the ritual 
of the god. 

This cultus first passed from the East to the hardy pirates 
of Cilicia, whom Pompey the Great subdued in the last years 

of the old Republic. 
Then gradually the 
Western world began to 
learn about the Mithras 
" chapels/' about the 
seven grades of initiates, 
about solemn purifica- 
tions from sin, and 
about an esoteric teach- 
ing which laid great 
stress on personal right- 
eousness, condemned 
vicious pretenses and 
claimed to reconcile man 
with god in a manner 
promising the former a joyous and noble hereafter. 

The Mithras cult is now making its way very rapidly, 
especially in the imperial army. All up and down the great 
garrison towns and standing camps along the frontiers 
" Mithras chapels " are being erected, small chambers suitable 
for only a few dozen of initiates. The rites and teachings 
are very secret, and it is impossible to penetrate them as we 
can part of the worship of Isis. 

Mithras worship furthermore makes no pretense of being 
a cult for the masses it is a blessing reserved strictly for 


Foreign Cults 


the proved and purified. All we know about it, however, 
convinces us that its ethics are noble, that it repudiates all 
coarse sensuality, and that it leaves its votaries genuinely 
better men and women, summoning them to be coadjutors of 
the " Unconquerable Sun " in his glorious war against spirit- 
ual darkness. 

As yet the Mithras worship in 
the West is relatively young, but 
the time will approach when great 
Emperors, Aurelian and Diocle- 
tian, will proudly number them- 
selves among its initiates, and in 
Mithraism ancient paganism will 
make its last real proffer for the 
allegiance of high-minded men. 1 

379. The Taurobolium (" Bath 
in Bull's Blood ") Connected 
with these Oriental cults, worthy 
and unworthy, there has come in 
a ceremony utterly strange to 
the religion of Numa, which, 
nevertheless, is gaining increas- 
ing vogue, the Taurobolium. 
Originally it belonged to the 
votaries of Cybele, but the Mithras worshipers have adopted 
it likewise. 

The rite is supposed to give one a peculiar cleansing from 
sin, and being decidedly expensive appeals not a little to 

1 Nearly all our evidence for Mithraism is archaeological ; we know 
little of either its doctrines or its ritual. Apparently it had a system of 
priests not unlike the Christian clergy and a ceremony resembling the 
Christian sacrament. It owed its success largely to the real nobility of 
its doctrines, but could not in the end maintain itself by appealing simply 
to a remote myth, while Christianity was able to appeal to a personal 


448 A Day in Old Rome 

wealthy personages who do not mind showing how their 
riches can put them on better terms with heaven than is 
possible for the run of mortals. With increasing frequency 
can be seen tombstones of magnates inscribed " Reborn to 
Eternity through the Taurobolium," and it is held by many 
that persons submitting to this ordeal are assured of a happy 
immortality at least, if they should die within twenty years 
of the ceremony; after which it can be repeated. 

Old line Romans ordinarily have not as yet felt a great need 
for the Taurobolium, 1 but one of Calvus's acquaintances, the 
senator Faventinus, has followed his initiation into Mithra- 
ism by celebrating the rite. It is indeed something which 
only deep religious convictions can induce persons of sensitive 
and luxurious tastes to undergo, although the special priests 
who conduct the proceeding know how to render it an im- 
pressive ceremony. 

Faventinus appeared at the appointed place before a con- 
course of Mithraic initiates, wearing a golden crown and 
with his toga tightly girded about him ; then he descended 
into a deep pit over which was placed a platform of stout 
boards. With mystical words and songs a consecrated bull 
was led upon the platform and there directly slaughtered in 
a manner causing its blood to flow freely through the chinks 
in the timbers upon the worshiper below. As the blood 
descended Faventinus extended his arms and uplifted his 
face that ad much might cover him as possible. 

When the initiate was taken out his whole person and 
garments blood-soaked other mysterious liturgies were 
recited over him. He was now a " Father " in the Mithraic 
order of the highest class of initiates, purged of all human 

1 Mithras worship was only beginning to be important in the Age of 
Hadrian, and the Taurobolium was then still comparatively rare ; by 
200 A.D. it had become decidedly common ; by 300 A.D. it was very fre- 
quent indeed. 

Foreign Cults 449 

dross, and entitled to dose communion with the deity. 
After all, the price of a fine bull and round fees to the priests 
seem little enough to pay for such an exalted privilege. 

380. The Christians : Pagan Account of Their Origin, 
There is still another cult in Rome, although cultivated men 
and women no less than the run of plebeians speak of it with 
utter aversion. Since the reign of Claudius there has existed 
a sect of degraded creatures, at first Jews 1 and Levantines, 
but later comprising also Greeks and Italians, known as 

Excluding the vulgar tattle of the mob, as good an author- 
ity as Tacitus writes thus : " Christus from whom the name 
of the sect is derived was put to death in the reign of Tiberius, 
by the procurator Pontius Pilatus. The deadly superstition 
having been checked for a while, began to break out again 
not only throughout Judea, where this mischief first arose but 
also at Rome, where from all sides all things scandalous and 
shameful meet and become fashionable/' 2 

By Nero's time the Christians were in such disfavor with 
the populace, being " misanthropes " and " enemies of the 
human race," as well as blasphemers of the gods, that the 
evil Emperor tried to make them scapegoats for the burning 

1 From the age of Augustus to that of Nero Judaism had a consider- 
able popularity in Rome. Its austere monotheism coupled with the 
mysterious Mosaic law and ceremonies made a considerable appeal to 
public opinion, and many fashionable persons including apparently 
Nero's Empress, the notorious Poppcea Sabina gave "Jewish doc- 
trines" a superficial patronage. It was also somewhat the fad to treat 
the Hebrew Sabbath as a kind of "holy day." All this favor collapsed 
after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The Jews became a scat- 
tered and persecuted sect, without influence. As for Christianity, after 
70 A.D. it lost nearly all its Jewish element and became pretty strictly a 
Gentile religion. 

1 Tacitus undoubtedly obtained his statement about Christ and Pilate 
from the official government reports in the Roman Record Office. There 
is no reason to suppose that he, any more than his friend Pliny, investi- 
gated Christian sources. 

450 A Day in Old Rome 

of Rome although the pretense was too thin. People 
said the Christians were wicked enough, but that they were 
not guilty at least of that ! 

381. The Persecution of Christians : Their " Insane Ob- 
stinacy. " Nowhere, in those respectable quarters in which 
our visit has moved, can we get any detailed information as 
to what these Christians really do and believe. Very few 
important persons have so far adhered to them, although 
there is a story that Flavius Clemens, a consul and a kins- 
man of Domitian (who put him to death along with so many 
other nobles), was actually caught by their supposedly crazy 

The sect has been declared unlawful ever since Nero's day, 
and from time to time its members have been arrested and 
their conventicles (usually held in half-concealed burial 
places or in sand pits in the suburbs) have been broken up. 
The magistrates, however, are slack ; the vigiles are busy 
chasing down ordinary thieves and murderers ; and the 
Christians most of the time are left alone. Hadrian, in fact, 
with his general tolerance, is said somewhat to have discour- 
aged active persecution. The Christians, nevertheless, are 
still under the ban of the law ; and being mostly slaves, freed- 
men, and resident foreigners, get very short shrift if actually 
brought before the Prefect. 

It is extremely easy to convict them : there is no need 
of elaborate testimony, you merely summon the defendants 
to burn incense to the image of the Genius of the Emperor 
and to curse the name of Christus. No Christian will ever 
do this. The trials therefore are usually very brief, and soon 
after they occur the crowd at the Flavian is ordinarily grati- 
fied by the sight of one of the Christians' " overseers " (bish- 
ops) or " assistants " (deacons) instead of an ordinary 
bandit, awaiting the spring of the lion. 

These sectaries are said to be very bold, professing not to 

Foreign Cults 451 

fear death which will only give them a surer and a better 
immortality than that secured by the Taurobolium. Beyond 
a doubt (any cultivated man will tell us) such defiant persons 
ought to be executed, if merely for their " insane obstinacy," 
although the edicts are only enforced spasmodically and the 
Christians are often allowed several years of peace. 1 

382. Current Charges against the Christians. If popular 
gossip, however, means anything, these people should deserve 
the worst possible fate. At their nocturnal gatherings, where 
men and women assemble, it is alleged, for a wild orgy, the 
central rite is said to consist of killing a babe and drinking 
its blood, while celebrants pledge themselves to commit 
every kind of wickedness. Finally they tie a dog to the 
lamp standards and incite the brute to upset the lights ; then 
in the ensuing darkness follow deeds of violence indescribable. 

It is also rumored that their Christus (who, of course, died 
the basest of possible deaths on the cross) actually h,d the 

1 The following are some only of the reasons why the Eoman govern- 
ment insisted on persecuting the Christians, despite its usual policy of 
religious tolerance : 

1 . The Christians persistently refused to sacrifice to the deified Em- 
perors and to the Genius of the reigning Emperor, an act practically 
amounting in common opinion to a denial of loyalty to the government, 
or at least capable of that construction. 

2. The Christians demanded the repudiation of the old gods, includ- 
ing, of course, the offi. cial gods of Rome ; they were not content with sim- 
ply worshiping "Christus" along with, Jupiter, Apollo, etc. as were for 
example the devotees of Isis. 

3. The Christians maintained a tight interior organization, separate 
socially from the pagans, under the control of its bishops, presbyters, and 
deacons, and so far as possible judging the disputes of its members. This 
seemed meddling with political matters, a ticklish business with any 

4. The private meetings of the Christians, and the misconstructions 
laid upon then- ceremonies, gave rise to the vilest possible stories. 

5. The great proportion of slaves and of the lowest grade of plebeians 
in the early Church seemed to justify the belief that here was a subver- 
sive, degraded, and illicit movement. 

452 A Day in Old Rome 

head of an ass. You can see crude wall drawings deriding 
his votaries, as for example, one showing a youth kneeling 
before an ass-headed figure on a cross, with the scribbled 
legend, " Alexander is adoring his god." l 

How far are these gross charges true ? Such aristocrats as 
Calvus merely shrug their shoulders ; they are not interested. 
However, about 112 A.D. Pliny the Younger, while governor 
of Bithynia, being compelled to enforce the Anti-Christian 
laws, seized two Christian women known as " deaconesses " 
and put them to torture in order to find out what really hap- 
pened at their gatherings. He reported that he had dis- 
covered that nothing criminal went on but only " a perverse 
and excessive superstition." Probably, senatorial circles 
will assure us, there is not much to be dreaded from such a 
movement which cannot possibly appeal to educated men 
well grounded in philosophy. Of course, Mithraism is very 
much more respectable, and according to all fashionable 
judgment has a far greater future before it ! 

1 An actual wall-picture. For the charges here given against Christian 
assemblies and for many gross details, see Minucius Felix ("Octavius" 
VIII, 9.), who quotes the stories in order to refute them. 

It seems needless in a book concerned strictly with pagan Rome, to 
discuss the actual tenets and liturgies of the Early Christians. The only 
point to be understood here is the vile character of the charges brought 
against them by the ignorant heathen. 


383. Appreciation of Country Life by the Romans. No 
study of Rome can be complete without recognition of one 
cardinal fact the intense desire of all Romans to get away 
from their turbulent city for a large part of the year. The 
wealthier the citizen the longer is likely to be his absence, 
although no doubt many a senator or eques growing weary of 
his luxurious retreat begins to sigh again for the Curia or the 
counting room long ere the formal " season " has ended. 

During the parching summer months the city is really 
deserted by a great part of its inhabitants. Only the most 
needful business goes on; the public games are attended 
merely by the humblest type of plebeians ; the rhetoric 
schools cease their floods of oratory ; the great baths really 
seem empty; and the Forum crowd becomes thinned and 
spiritless. Every person blessed with a moderate income and 
leisure has sought the seashore or the mountains. 

384. Praises of the Country Towns and Villas. Never 
in after ages will the blessings of country as against city life 
be better appreciated than under the Roman Empire. The 
congestion, the noise, the hurly-burly of the world metropolis 
probably exceeds that of any future competitor. 

The poets all sing the praises of existence amid rural 
charms. Martial for example waxes enthusiastic over the 
chance to " get away " from the porticoes of cold, variegated 
marbles and from the need of running on morning greetings, 
so that he can empty his hunting nets before his own fire, lift 
the quivering fish from the line and draw the yellow honey 



A Day in Old Rome 

from the " red-stained cask," while his plump stewardess 
cooks his own eggs for him. Juvenal extols the cheapness 
and satisfaction of living in the country towns where for the 
rent of a dark garret in Rome you can afford to buy a small 
house with a neat little garden and a shallow well whence you 
can draw the water for your own, plants. Wealthier folk 
share the same passion, and Pliny the Younger writes that 
he longs for the pleasures of his villas " as ardently as an 
invalid longs for wine, the baths, and the fountains." 


The sentiment, indeed, is so common that no further 
instances need be cited, save that of Similis, Trajan's veteran 
praetorian prefect, who, having retired under Hadrian, has 
just died after seven years of honorable self-banishment in a 
quiet country retreat. On his tombstone he has ordered to 
be graven : " Here lies Similis, an old man, who has LIVED 
just seven years." 

385. Comfortable Modes of Travel : Luxurious Litters and 
Carriages. So then at least by the time of the " tyrannous 
reign of the Dog Star or the Lion " (mid-summer and Sep- 
tember) all the roads leading from Rome are covered with the 

A Roman Villa 


great corteges, if indeed, the magnates have not quitted the 
city much earlier. 

This is no place to speak of the admirable Roman road 
system which spreads as a vast network all over the Empire, 
and which is, of course, at its best in Italy. Travel for the 
rich in Hadrian's day is extremely luxurious if not corre- 
spondingly rapid. If you are in no hurry, you can ride in a 
comfortable litter borne by six or eight even-paced bearers 
and so outfitted that you can read, write, sleep, and even play 

ROMAN BRIDGE : typical of thousands which covered the Empire. 

at dice, while your retinue is winding its slow way over the 
Campagna, or up into the mountains. If you are in greater 
haste, there are speedy if somewhat less steady gigs and other 
open carriages which energetic people drive themselves, 
although great folk, of course, demand plenty of postilions 
and " well-girt running footmen." In any case the journey 
from Rome is a matter of great display for anybody with 
claims to fortune. Fifty slaves and twenty baggage wagons 
are hardly enough to become a senator ; and four times as 
many of each is not an excessive retinue. 

However, less distinguished people can drive about in their 
own light, open two-wheeled carriages (cisia), or can hire 

456 A Day in Old Rome 

them at the posting stations just outside the gates, and time 
would fail to tell of all the kinds of carpenta (two-wheeled 
covered vehicles) or redoe (four-wheeled traveling carriages) 
which one can meet on the Via Appia or the Via Latina. 

Since Rome is a city without railroads and without first- 
class shipping facilities, necessity has developed this carriage 
service to a fine point. Some people indeed still bestride 
mules, like that of Horace, " short of tail and heavy of gait," 
and government carriers ride horseback but the wheeled 
vehicles are excellent. It will be a long time before they can 
be surpassed in comfort. 1 

386. Multiplication of Villas: Seashore Estates at 
Baiae, etc. Distant journeys we cannot consider, nor the 
service of imperial and private messengers to the provinces. 
Our concern is with the fact that over the whole of west- 
central Italy, well up into the Apennines, and all along the 
Etruscan, Latin, and Campanian coasts one luxurious estate 
follows upon another. 

Many of these vast establishments indeed combine profit 
with pleasure. Landed property is the most genteel form of 
wealth and close beside the sumptuous villa urbana which 
imitates the glories of the city mansion, there often spreads 
the humbler and more utilitarian villa rustica which houses 
the great gangs of slaves or hireling laborers who keep the 
broad acres under cultivation. 

One cannot turn aside to examine Italian agriculture, but 
the residence villas are so essential to every Roman of breed- 
ing and property that to ignore them is impossible. Persons 
of means seem always purchasing more villa property, indeed 
there are not a few magnates who can take a long journey up 

1 Probably the Roman carriages were more convenient than anything 
known later in Europe prior to 1800 ; and travel facilities in general were 
as good, the inns possibly averaging worse but the roads decidedly better, 
than at the dawn of the Nineteenth Century. 

A Roman Villa 457 

and down Italy, spending each night upon one of their own 
estates. If Publius Calvus contents himself with only four 
country residences, he shows that he is poorer and less 
pretentious than many fellow senators of praetorian rank. 

Inevitably certain places are preferred beyond others. 
Upon the Bay of Naples people of leisure, who do not 
mind a hundred and fifty mile journey from Rome, find a 
famous and delightful center at Baise; and indeed in the 
entire region of this bay, recovering now from the ravages 
of the outbreak of Mt. Vesuvius. Outward along the more 
southerly Bay of Psestum [Bay of Salerno] the shore is lined 
with one lofty marble-crowned villa after another, often 
erected upon elaborate jetties thrusting far out into the 
sapphire sea. 

There is, however, a whole series of handsome seaboard 
villas all the way southward from Ostia and Antium, Cir- 
cei, Tarracina (where the Via Appia strikes the coastline), 
and Formise are only a few of those luxurious colonies to 
which the wealth and fashion of Rome scatter during several 
months of the year. Many is the senator, eques, or great 
freedman who can boast also of his magnificent yacht, painted 
in gay colors, with purple sails, purple awnings on the poop, 
with rigging entwined on gala days with leaves and flowers, 
and with liveried rowers who are trained to swing together 
like automata. 

387. Villas in the Mountains ; Small Farms near Rome. 
A great many Romans, however, disperse towards the hills ; 
indeed there are many rich persons whose business will not 
permit them to go many miles from the city, and others 
who keep a suburban villa for casual visits from the town, 
reserving the seashore or the Apennines for the months 
when the law courts are closed and the Senate forgets to 
assemble. Calvus, we have seen, possesses a remote estate 
in the North by one of the Italian lakes which he can visit only 

458 A Day in Old Rome 

on set occasions, another at Bauli close to Baise, also some- 
what rarely visited, a third in the Etruscan hills which is his 
regular retreat in hot weather, and a fourth, a simpler affair, 
located a few miles up the Anio toward Tibur. 

This last near Rome, so the senator likes to boast, is of real 
Spartan simplicity. He affects to take great pleasure there 
in his hennery maintained so near to the metropolis, the great 
flocks of geese, Numidian (guinea) fowl, and Rhodian cocks 
and hens and the fields of vegetables very grateful when sent 
down by the milieus (farm steward) to the city mansion. 
One suspects, however, that there is greater satisfaction 
taken in the hot houses where, under the expensive but well- 
known luxury of glass, rare fruits are ripened in cold weather, 

and whence roses, violets, 
f'\ " " " / ;> 'Vv^l!jK narcissus, hyacinths, and 

lilies are dispatched to Rome 

for the darissimus's banquets. 
W8P '' ^' W A This establishment near the 
* > capital is, in fact, hardly the 

kind of retreat Calvus likes 
ROMAN SPADES. best, although a good many 

literary gentlemen, like Sue- 
tonius the biographer of the Caesars, retire to modest subur- 
ban estates " large enough to engage their minds but not 
large enough to give them worry." In such retreats they 
can pursue their learned labors, " get rid of their headaches 
and walk lazily around their boundary paths," and yet keep 
in touch with their city friends. 

388. Great Estates in the Hills : Pliny's Tuscan Villa. 
It is the great villa in the hills which is the normal retreat 
and joy of Calvus, his noble Gratia, and their equally noble 
children. Such places, be it noticed, the true Roman does 
not care to locate very near to grandiose mountain scenery. 
He is not fond of overpowering sublime views ; what he pre- 

A Roman Villa 


fers is a gentle aspect over smiling plains, lush meadows, and 
fertile corn-fields. 

Lucretius rejoiced in the happy intervals when he could 
" recline by a brook of running water beneath the leafage of a 
lofty tree," and Virgil desired " that he might always love 
tilled fields and streams that flow among the valleys." Ha- 

RUINS OP HADRIAN'S VILLA AT Tivou (Tibur): partial view. 

drian is somewhat exceptional, among other ways, in that he 
enjoys toiling up high mountains like JStna for the sake of 
the magnificent view. The average senator desires to ascend 
no further than he can comfortably drive in his cisium, or be 
swung along in his litter. 

The Tuscan villa of Calvus is easily visited. It constitutes, 
in fact, an estate which the senator purchased some years ago 
from the heirs of the younger Pliny. Few changes beyond 
needful repairs have been made since its completion, and no 


A Day in Old Rome 

words of ours can surpass those of its former owner in explain- 
ing why life seems very pleasant to those whom Jupiter or 
Destiny have made rich and fortunate in the imperial age. 1 

389. Charming Location of Pliny's Villa. " This prop- 
erty (wrote Pliny) lies just under the Apennines, which are 
the healthiest of our mountain ranges. In winter the air is 
cold and frosty; myrtles, olives, and all other trees which 

RUINS OF HADRIAN'S VILLA AT TIVOLI (Tibur): partial view. 

require a constant warmth the climate spurns, although the 
laurel usually prospers. But in summer the heat is marvel- 
ously tempered ; there is always a breath of air stirring, and 
mild breezes are more common than high winds. The con- 
tour of the district is most beautiful. 

" Picture an immense amphitheater, wrought by Nature, 

1 The following is an abridgment of Pliny the Younger 's well-known 
description of his Tuscan villa. 

A Roman Villa 


with a wide-spreading plain ringed with hills and the summits 
thereof covered with the tall and ancient forests. Here there 
is plenty of hunting, while down the mountain slopes there 
are stretches of underwoods, and among these are rich deep- 
soiled hillocks which bear excellent crops. Below these 
hillocks in turn, along the whole hillsides, stretch the vine- 
yards which present an unbroken line far and wide, bordered 
with a fringe of trees. Then you can come down to the mead- 


ows and fields where the soil is so thick that only the most 
powerful oxen can tug the plows; but the meadows are 
jeweled with flowers, and produce trefoil, and other herbs, 
always tender and soft. 

" Through the middle of this plain flows the Tiber. Here it 
is navigable for boats which carry down grain to the city in 
winter and spring, although in summer the channel is only a 
dried-up bed. Gazing over the district from the heights you 
think you are not looking so much upon earth and fields but 
at a landscape picture of wonderful loveliness. 

" My villa, though, lies at the foot of the hill enjoying as 

462 A Day in Old Rome 

fine a prospect as though it stood on the summit, the ascent 
is so gentle, easy and unnoticeable. Behind lie the Apen- 
nines, but at a considerable distance, yet even on a cloudless 
day the spot gets a gentle breeze duly tempered from the 

390. Terraces of the Villa : the Porticoes : Summer-Houses 
and Bedrooms. " Most of the house faces southward invit- 
ing the sun as it were into the portico which is broad and long 
to correspond, and contains a number of apartments and an 
old-fashioned hall. In front there is a terrace bounded with 
an edging of box, then comes a sloping ridge of turf with 
figures of animals on both sides cut out of the box trees, 
while on the level ground stands an acanthus tree, with leaves 
so soft that I might almost call them liquid. Around about 
there is a walk bordered by evergreens pressed and trimmed 
into various shapes ; then comes an exercise ground, round 
like a circus, which surrounds the box trees which are cut 
into different forms, and the dwarf shrubs that are kept well 
clipped. 1 Beyond these there stretches a meadow delightful 
for its natural charm as the things just described are for their 
artificial beauty. 

" At the head of the portico juts out the triclinium from the 
doors whereof can be seen this terrace, meadow, and the 
expanse of country beyond. Almost opposite the middle of 
the portico is a summer-house with a small open space in the 
middle shaded by four plane trees. Among them stands a 
marble fountain, from which the water plays upon and 
sprinkles slightly the roots of the plane trees and the grass 
plot around the four. 

" In this pavilion there is located a bed chamber which 
excludes all light, noise and sound, and adjoining it is another 
dining room especially for my friends, which commands also 

1 The Romans delighted in formal and highly artificial gardens such 
as were in vogue in the Italian Renaissance and the France of Louis XIV. 

A Roman Villa 


a delightful view. There is still another bed chamber, how- 
ever, which is embowered and shaded by the nearest, plane 
tree and built of marble up to the balcony ; above [in the 
ceiling] is a picture of a tree with birds perched in the branches, 
equally as beautiful as the marble, Here, too, there is a 
small fountain with a basin around the latter, and into it the 


water flows from a number of little pipes which produce a 
most agreeable liquid sound. 

" In the corner of the portico there is yet a third bed cham- 
ber leading out of the dining-room, some of its windows 
looking forth upon the terrace, others upon the meadow, while 
the windows in front face the fish-pond which lies just beneath 
them : right pleasant it is both to eye and to ear, as the water 
falls from a considerable height and glistens like snow as it 
is caught in the marble basin. This bed room is agreeably 


A Day in Old Rome 

warm even in winter, for it is flooded with an abundance of 

391. The Baths: the Rear Apartments: the Riding 
Course. " To the last named room adjoins the calidarium 

of the baths, and on a cloudy 
day we can turn in the steam 
heat to take the place of the 
warm sun. Next comes an ample 
and cheerful undressing room for 
the bath, from which you pass 
into the cool frigidarium con- 
taining a large and shady swim- 
ming pool. Adjoining this cold 
bath is the mild tepidarium, for 
the sun shines upon it lavishly, 
although not so much as upon 
the hot bath which is built fur- 
ther out. Above the adjacent 
dressing room is a ball court 
where various kinds of exercise 
can be taken and several games 
can go on at once ; and close to 
this are more bed-chambers all 
commanding enchanting views 
over the gardens, meadows, vine- 
yards and mountains. 
" Such is the front part of the villa. In the rear and to the 
sides are still other dining rooms and bedrooms ; especially 
there are certain that are so far underground as to be perfectly 
cool even in the hottest weather. There is also an elaborate 
set of quarters for the servants. 

" However, the most delightful part of the entire establish- 
ment is perhaps the riding course. Around its borders are 
plane trees covered with ivy, which creeps along the trunks 


A Roman Villa 465 

and branches and spreading across to the neighboring trees 
joins the whole line together. Between the plane trees are 
set box-shrubs, and on the further side of the shrubs is a ring 
of laurels which mingle their shade with that of the plane. 

" At the farther end, the straight boundary of the riding 
course is curved into a semi-circular form which quite changes 
its appearance. It is inclosed with cypress-trees, casting in 
places a dark and gloomy shade, though spots are left quite 
open to the sunshine ; in these last bloom roses, and the 
warmth of the sun gives a delightful change from the cool of 
the shadows. All around these avenues run paths lined with 
other box-shrubs ; and here and there are more of the box 
trimmed into a great variety of patterns, some being cut into 
letters forming my name, as being the owner, or that of the 

392. The Fountains and Luxurious Pavilions in the Gar- 
dens. " At the upper end of this hippodrome is a couch of 
white marble covered with a vine. Jets of water gush from 
under the couch through small pipes, and look as if they were 
forced out by the weight of the persons reclining on the pillows, 
while the water rushes, down into a graceful marble basin 
with an underground outlet so it fills but never overflows. 
When I dine at this spot the heavier dishes and plates are set 
by the side of the basin, but the lighter ones, made in the 
shape of little boats and birds, float on the surface and 
turn round and round. 

" Directly opposite this couch is a sleeping pavilion. 
It is formed of glistening marble, and through the projecting 
folding doors you can pass at once among the foliage, while 
from the windows you look upon the same green picture. 
Within is a bed, and the shade is so dense that little light can 
enter, while a wonderfully luxuriant vine has climbed upon 
the roof and covers the whole building. You can fancy you 
are in a grove as you lie here, only you do not feel the rain as 

466 A Day in Old Rome 

you do amid the trees. Here, too, a fountain rises, then 
immediately loses itself underground. There are a number of 
marble chairs placed up and down, very restful if you do not 
wish the bed. Near these chairs, yet again, there are little 
fountains, and throughout the whole riding course you can 
hear the murmur of tiny streams carried through pipes which 
run wherever you please to direct them." 

393. Life of Sensuous Luxury at Such a Villa. Contrast 
in Human Conditions under the Roman Regime. " Besides 
the beauties herein described one has perfect comfort, repose, 
and freedom from anxiety at such a villa. I need not don the 
heavy toga ; no neighbor ever calls to drag me out ; every- 
thing is placid and quiet ; and this peace adds to the health- 
fulness of the place, giving it, so to speak, a purer sky and a 
more limpid air. Here I enjoy better health both in mind and 
body than anywhere else, for I exercise the former by study, 
and the latter by hunting. May the gods preserve to me 
this place in all its beauty I " 

If life can consist of nothing more than a series of delightful 
sensations, the eye to be pleased by entrancing vistas of mar- 
ble, greenery, or wooded hills, the ear by the soft murmur of 
musical fountains, and every creature want ministered unto 
by scores of highly trained menials, whose sole object in life 
seems to be to anticipate their masters' needs, what greater 
fortune, one may ask, can any age provide than to be possessor 
of such a villa, with the wealth and rank such possession must 
imply ? Happy its former, happy its present owner ! Is it 
forbidden to regret that one's lot is not cast for a lifetime in 
Italy in these prosperous days of the Empire ? 

Yet tarry even while as Calvus's guests we take our 
seats upon his marble benches beside the musical fountain 
under the whispering cypresses, and before we can converse 
amiably with the senator, perhaps upon the Stoic theory of 
" The Highest Good " there are sounds discordant the 

A Roman Villa 467 

clink of fetters, the snap of whips, the curses of drivers, the 
groans of human cattle. 

Along the road concealed by the shrubbery, is passing the 
slave coffle, the gang of " speaking tools " on its way from 
the underground dungeon (ergastulum) upon the great farm 
attached to the villa, to the daily toil in the fields beneath a 
broiling sun. The refined luxury of the fortunate few is pur- 
chased by the squalor, the ignorance, and often by the life- 
long misery of the brutalized many. 


394. Character of Hadrian : Prosperity and Good Govern- 
ment of His Reign. Purposely we had visited Rome in the 
absence of Hadrian ; our interest had been in the city and its 
people, not in the versatile, ever-wandering Caesar and the 
administration of the Empire. But before Publius Calvus 
could set forth for his Tuscan villa he and all other Senators 
had to attend a great state ceremony the reception of the 
Emperor returning from his travels. 

More than any other Roman ruler Hadrian had been an 
insatiable traveler. The frontiers of Britain, Syria, and 
Africa, the garrison towns on the Rhine, and the Danube 
he knew them all. The peaceful cities of Gaul, Spain, and 
Egypt reaped the benefits of his intelligent benevolence when 
he visited them. Twice he had sojourned in Athens, the city 
which perhaps he loved the best in all the world, finishing the 
great Temple of Olympian Zeus left uncompleted since the 
days of the Peisistratidse and otherwise beautifying the now 
sleepy old university town, so that its grateful dwellers 
acclaimed him as a second founder like unto the original 

Hadrian's personal life had been indeed marred with cer- 
tain acts of arbitrary caprice and even of cruelty ; many sena- 
tors grumbled at his long absences from Rome and they 
somewhat dreaded his sudden judgments, but the Empire at 
large had been incalculably happy under his sway. The 
legions were under firm discipline, wars there were not save 
petty rumblings on the frontiers and the embers of the last 

The Emperor 


struggle of the unhappy Jews, while peaceful commerce 
whitened the Mediterranean, and merchants' caravans 
wound confidently over the great road system with little fear 
of bandits. 

Under such an Emperor laws were scientifically adminis- 
tered without fear or favor. The provincial governors were, 
despite an occasional plunderer such as we saw haled before 
the Senate, men of genuine 
intelligence, probity, and 
zeal. If the Senate was be- 
coming a venerable debating 
club, if the other forms of 
political liberty were either 
dead or dying, under Ha- 
drian despotism was show- 
ing its fairest face with a 
highly capable monarch ear- 
nestly devoting himself to 
his subjects' good. What 
man, surveying the august 
fabric and social and govern- 
mental machinery of the 
Empire, could have failed to 
echo the current notion that the dominion of Rome was 
divinely ordained and find that her departed Caesars were 
worthily ranked among the gods ? l 

395. Return of Hadrian to Italy. But Hadrian had been 
growing old and a little weary of his philanthropic wander- 

L Well known, of course, is the famous dictum of Gibbon (" Decline and 
Fall of Roman Empire" : vol. i, chap. 2. Bury edition, p. 78) : "If a 
man were called to fix the period during which the condition of the human 
race was most happy and prosperous he would, without hesitation, name 
that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Corn- 
modus." From the standpoint of a believer in aristocracy or monarchy 
this opinion is largely justifiable. 


470 A Day in Old Rome 

ings. And now at length a peaceful armada had borne him 
back from Greece to Puteoli. Hence with an enormous 
cortege he had traveled by easy stages along the " Queen 
of Roads/ J the Via Appia, to the outskirts of the capital. 
And now to welcome him back to the Palatine the obsequious 
magistrates arranged the inevitable public spectacle. 

The Emperor is not returning as a conquering triumphator. 
No formal triumph can therefore be ordained in his honor. 
He cannot wear laurel as he rides in a gilded chariot, pre- 
ceded by the long files of fettered captives and, followed by 
the cohorts of his acclaiming army, drive his car through the 
Porta Triumphalis near the Circus Flaminius, next take a 
long circuit through the Circus Maximus and then down the 
Via Sacra and across the Forum and finally mount upward to 
pay his vows to Jupiter Best and Greatest on the Capitol. 
A magnificent procession, nevertheless, is possible. At the 
third milestone from the city along the Via Appia all the 
senators and equites in gala robes meet the advancing Im- 
perator. His Empress Sabina is greeted with equal ceremony 
by the wives of the entire aristocracy. 

In the city all the vast colonnades are hung with garlands 
of spring flowers, all business is suspended ; all the fora and 
streets along the line of march are packed with throngs in bril- 
liant costumes and equally brilliant chaplets. One grows 
weary counting the magnificent litters everywhere passing, 
followed by the gorgeously liveried retinues of the wealthy. 

396. Imperial Procession Entering Rome. At last after 
duly impressive delays the imperial procession starts from the 
spot known as the Three Fountains. 1 The Praetorians are 
there in full force, the City Cohorts, and heavy drafts of the 
vigiles, all the tribunes, centurions, and privates parading 

1 Where according to firm Christian tradition St. Paul was beheaded 
in the days of Nero, having been rearrested after having once been set 
at liberty. 

The Emperor 471 

in silvered or gilded armor with scarlet plumes and mantles. 
The magistrates and ex-magistrates all wear the colorful 
toga prsetexta. 

The ruler himself, " Holder of the Tribunician and Pro- 
consular Power, Pontifex Maximus, Csesar Augustus, Father 
of his Country, First Citizen and Imperator " ; that is to 
say Hadrian in person rides in the glittering chariot wherein 
Augustus rode in his triumph after the battle of Actium. 
Four snow-white horses draw the car, and beside the slim 
Greek charioteer stands the object of universal envy, the 
man who is all but a god even in Italy, who is the " Son of 
the Divinity," Trajan, and who is actually worshiped as a 
deity before a thousand altars throughout the subjected East. 

Hadrian is a handsome bearded man of stature above the 
average. The gray of advancing age is streaking his hair, 
but he retains that graceful presence and piercing glance 
which would make him a notable figure had he never donned 
the purple. Before him, bound to the end of staves, are 
carried placards in large letters reciting the benefits he has 
conferred on hundreds of communities ; there is also a large 
roll of papyrus symbolic of the " Perpetual Edict " which he 
has inspired the learned jurist Salvus Julianus to compile 
preparatory to the codification of the vast Civil Law. 

Directly before the Emperor there is borne upon an open 
car a gilded image of the beautiful youth Antinoos, Hadrian's 
favorite companion, whose mysterious death in Egypt the 
monarch has never ceased to mourn ; while behind the im- 
perial chariot rides the marveling envoy of Chosroes the 
Parthian King who has received peace at the hands of the 
Caesar. The hundreds of senators and thousands of equites 
marching in the procession, now and again, perhaps at some 
signal, raise shouts of applause to the master and sun of that 
glorious human universe wherein they rejoice as the fortu- 
nate stars, 

472 A Day in Old Rome 

397. Hailing the Emperor. So the procession enters 
Rome. At sight of the tall, majestic Imperator, whose 
purple mantle gleams with gold, all the streets and plazas 
burst into tumults of cheering. " lo Triumphe! lo Tri- 
umphe! Ave Caesar! Ave Hadriane!" while not a few in 
ecstatic loyalty make haste even to salute him as " Dominits 

As the imperial car passes each crossing of the streets, 
victims are sacrificed, while loud prayers are raised for the 
monarch's safety. The air grows heavy with the perfumes 
of the incense burning on hundreds of improvised altars. 
From the balconies matrons rain down masses of roses ; and 
at many a turn great volumes of saffron are sprinkled over 
the marchers. 

Onward Hadrian rides, his handsome features curling per- 
chance with pleasure but looking not to the right hand nor 
the left. Perhaps he recalls that were this a formal triumph, 
a slave would have been required to stand behind him whis- 
pering at intervals, " Remember, you are but a man 1 " 

398. The Donatives, Fetes, and Games. The procession 
thus sweeps along the Sacred Way, pauses for a moment that 
the Emperor may survey the latest touches upon his new 
Temple of Venus and Rome, passes the holy House of Vesta 
and then turning away from the Forum and the Capitol 
ascends into the Palatine. Here the gorgeously arrayed 
companies of the official bureaucracy swell again the " lo 
Triumphe ! " and Hadrian dismounts from the car to 
offer his own special thanksgiving for safe return, and to 
burn his own incense within the Temple of Apollo of the 

All that afternoon the fete continues. The great public 
baths stand open, absolutely free, not even the petty quad- 
rans being exacted from the plebeian visitors. The grain 
and bread doles are doubled ; the ticket holders receiving to 

The Emperor 


boot measures of oil and wine. The Praetorians drink deeply 
the imperial health for a special donative of 1000 sesterces 
($40) per man has been ordered for the entire corps. 

In the Flavian Amphitheater Hadrian himself presides in 
the podium while a lioness contends with an elephant, the 
most famous and skilful netters and Thracians slaughter 
one another, and a 
desperate robber is 
done to death by three 
panthers. Late into 
the evening the streets 
are illuminated ; there 
is feasting, dancing, re- 
veling all through the 
wide parks and the 
bosky groves stretch- 
ing across the Campus 
Martius to the Tiber. 
Everybody is praising 
the greatness and glory 
alike of Emperor and 
Empire; and as for 
Rome, Imperial Rome, 
the center of all the 
earth, who doubts that 
her power is ordained 
to stand forever ? 

399. A Christian 
Gathering. Not all Rome this night is given over to roses, 
wine, and reveling under the torchlight. In one of those 
subterranean burial galleries near the Via Appia, which a 
later age will call " Catacombs," in a spot where a chamber 
of some dimensions has been excavated, a group of soberly 
clad folk have gathered. They have met stealthily, post- 

present state. 

474 A Day in Old Rome 

ing sentries to give the alarm, for the vigiles may not have 
become too drunk that night to be active. 

The leader of their service is the Bishop Higinius whose 
name will stand as the eighth Pope following the Apostle 
Peter. During their simple liturgies some strains of bois- 
terous music from the luxurious, sensual, pitiless metropolis 
outside interrupt their hymns, and the good bishop signs to 
one of the deacons. The latter opens the scroll of the Book of 
Apocalypse where under the cryptic name of " Babylon " 
is forewarned the fate even of imperial Rome ; and thus he 
reads : 

" For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath 
remembered her iniquities ; therefore shall her plagues come 
upon her in one day, death and mourning and famine ; and 
the kings of the earth who have committed wickedness and 
lived deliciously with her shall bewail and lament her when 
they see the smoke of her burning. 

" And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn 
over her, for no man buyeth their merchandise any more ; 
the merchandise of gold and silver, and precious stones, and 
of pearls, and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet and 
all rare woods and all manner of vessels of ivory, and all man- 
ner of vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, 
and marble, and cinnamon, and odors and ointments, and 
frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and 
beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and 
the souls of men." 


[References are to pages.] 

Ada Diurna, 282 ff. 

Advocates, methods of, 345 ; great 
importance of, 355 ; cheap pet- 
tifoggers, 356 ; high abilities of 
some lawyers, 358. 

Agrippa, Baths of, 361. 

Aliens, vast numbers of, 123 ; 
colonies of, in Rome, 145. 

Amphitheater, 394 ff. ; (see Gladi- 
ator Contests) . 

Antiques, often spurious, 58. 

Apicius, the gourmand, 100. 

Aqueducts, 303-304, 

Arch, use of, 13. 

Architectural Forms, usually Greek, 
12 ; use of arch and vault in, 13. 

Architecture, very grandiose, 258. 

Arena, arrangement of, 392 ; (see 
Gladiator Contests). 

Armor, of legionaries, 318. 

Army, real master of the Empire, 
307 ; held under stiff discipline, 
308 ; stationed on frontiers, 308- 
309 ; legions in, 309 ff. ; size of, 
331 ; efficiency of, 332 ; no re- 
serves to, 332 ; (see Legionaries) . 

Arria (wife of Csecina Foetus), 76. 

Atrium, 42, 43. 

Auctions, 226. 

Audiences with emperors, 296. 

Augurs and augury, 418-419. 

Augustus, tomb of, 372; deified, 

Auspices, taken in Senate, 340. 

Auxiliary cohorts, 327-328. 

Ball games, 206. 

Banks and bankers, 227 ff. ; a 
great banker, 228 ; forms of 
investment, 229 ; trust business 
of, 229; savings banks, 230; 

safe deposits, 230; deposits in 
Temple of Vesta, 231. 

Banquets (see Dinners). 

Barber shops, 90, 91. 

Basilica JEmilia, 271. 

Basilica Julia, 272-274. 

Baths, popularity of, 358 ; lux- 
urious private, 259 ; private- 
owned, 360-361 ; large govern- 
ment-owned, 360 ; great Baths of 
Trajan, 361 ff. ; crowds at, 362 ; 
often a kind of club house, 362- 
363 ; entrance to, 363 ; interior of, 
364 ; cold room (frigidarium) , 
365 ; swimming pool, 365 ; 
tepidarium, 365-366 ; hot baths 
(caldarid), 366; extreme luxury 
of, 367 ; restaurants and shops 
at, 367-368 ; parasites at, 368. 

Beards, revival of, 91. 

Beast fights, 399. 

Beggars, multitude of, 252. 

Bonuses (donativa) , 245. 

Books, 209 ff. ; format of, 210 ; 
mounting and rolling of, 211 ; 
copying of, 212 ; publication of, 
212, 213, 

Bread, 103, 104. 

Breakfast (jentaculum), 110. 

Building materials used in Rome, 

Bulla, 186. 

Caldaria, 366. 

Camp of praetorian guard, 311. 

Camps, military, 330. 

Campus Martius, view from, 7 ; 
general description of, 280 ; great 
porticoes along, 368; public 
buildings upon, 369. 

Carriages, varieties of, 455-456. 




Catacombs, used by Christians, 

Cemeteries, 179-180. 
Cena (see Dinner) . 

Centurions, in legions, 323-325. 

Chairs, forms of, 55-56. 

Charioteers, 383; (see Circus). 

Chests, 57. 

Children, legal status of, 184; 
exposure of, 184 ; very desirable, 
185; ceremonies after birth, 
185 ; names given, 186-189 ; care 
in educating, 189 ; toys and pets, 
190 ; taught Greek, 191 ; school- 
ing and education, 192 ff. 

Christianity, pagan account of, 
449; persecution of, 450-451; 
charges against, 451 ; attitude of 
educated men towards, 452. 

Christians, gathering of, in the 
Catacombs, 473. 

Circus, popularity of, 382 ; char- 
ioteers in, 383 ; racing factions 
in, 383 ; wagering in, 384 ; 
Circus Maximus, 384 ff. ; race 
track, 384 ; procession before 
races, 385-386 ; beginning of 
races, 386 ; dangers in races, 387 ; 
proclaiming victors, 387-389. 

Circus, Flaminian, 370. 

Circus Maximus, 384 ff . 

Citizenship, desirability of, 146 ; 
case of St. Paul, 147. 

Claudius Etruscus, powerful freed- 
man, 142. 

Clientage, old type, 147-148; new 
type, 148. 

Clients, morning salutation by, 
148-149; doles given, 150; at- 
tend their patron, 151 ; undergo 
insults, 151, 152. 

Clothing (see Garments). 

Cohorts, city (cohortes urbanae), 

Collegia, 249 ff. 

Color, used upon sculpture, 259. 

Column of Trajan, 278-280. 

Concrete, great use of, 11. 

Congiaria, 244. 

Cookery, refinements in, 109, 110. 

Correspondence, 208. 

Couches, general use of, 54. 
Country, around Rome, 5 ; view of, 

5, 6. 
Country-life, Roman love of, 453- 

454; (see Villas). 
Court, imperial ; (see Emperor). 
Courts, law, 353 ff. ; (see Legal 

Crowds, typical, upon a Roman 

street, 21. 
Curia, 272. 

Curia Julia, arrangement of, 339. 
Cybele, worship of, 441. 

Daily Gazette (Acta Diurna), 282 
ff . ; entries and gossip in, 284, 

Decurions, provincial nobles, 152. 

Deified Augustus and later em- 
perors, 439. 

Dining room (triclinium), 45, 46. 

Dinner (cena), 111 ff. ; time for, 111 ; 
standard number for, 113; pre- 
paring for, 114; arranging 
couches, 115; serving of, 116; 
courses at, 117; drinking 
bout after, 118; garlands and 
perfumes at, 119; very elaborate 
banquets, 120; simple home 
meals, 121. 

Dinner hunters, 112; at baths, 368. 

Discomforts of life in Rome, 33. 

Doles, public, of grain, 242, 243; 
distribution of, 244. 

Domus (mansions) , 39 ff. ; often 
several owned by one magnate, 
39; plan of early, 40; plan of 
developed, 40, 41 ; price of a 
handsome, 41 ; entrance to, 42 ; 
atrium of, 42, 43 ; decorations of, 
43 ; peristylium, 44 ; triclinium, 
45, 46; special rooms in, 47; 
garden behind, 47; slaves' 
quarters, 48 ; floors and windows 
of, 49 ; frescos in, 50 ; statues in, 
51, 52, 53 ; furniture in, 54 ff. 

Donativa, 245. 

Drinking bout (commissat id) , 118. 

Eagle of legion, 325. 
Eating-houses, 235, 236. 



Education, selection of school, 192 j 
extent of literacy, 193; instruc- 
tion of girls, 193 ; for lower 
classes, 193, 194; low-grade 
schools, 194 ; cruelty in schools, 
195; superior types of schools, 
196; methods of teaching, 197; 
reading and writing, 198 ; arith- 
metic, 199; grammarians' high 
schools, 199 ; passion for oratory, 
200 ; rhetoric schools, 201 ; mock 
debates, 202 ; popularity of 
rhetorical studies, 203; phil- 
osophy, study of, 204. 

Egypt, worship of its gods, 442. 

Emperor, center of social life, 294 ; 
"friends of Csesar," 295; audi- 
ences with, 296 ; ruin through 
disfavor of, 296, 297; favor 
most valuable, 298. 

Emperors, cult of the deified, 439- 

Emporium, 240. 

Encampments, military, 330. 

Entrance to house, 42. 

Epicureanism, popular, 407. 

Equites, second class nobles, 153 ; 
qualifications and honors of, 
154, 155 ; review of, 156. 

Escorts, of rich nobles, 25. 

Factions, in circus, 383. 

Fame, passion for, in letters, 214, 
215; in poetry, 236. 

Familia of slaves, 129, 130 ; organ- 
ization of, 131. 

Festivals, great number of, 374 ; 
passion for spectacles, 375 ; (see 
Games, Public). 

Petioles, 422. 

Fire department, 304 ff . 

Fish, great demand for, 106. 

Flamens, 420. 

Flavian amphitheater, 394-397. 

Floors, of houses, 49. 

Flowers, varieties supplied from 
villa gardens, 458. 

Flute-blowers, guild of, 251. 

Fora, centers of Roman life, 254 ; 
series of, 256; crowds in, 256, 
257 ; centers for new, 257 ; 

grandiose architecture in, 258; 
use of color on sculptures, 259; 
entrance upon the series, 260; 
Temple of Venus and Rome, 261, 
262; colossal statue of Nero, 
262 ; Arch of Titus, 262 ; Temple 
of Vesta, 265 ; Temple of the 
Divine Julius, 265; Old Forum, 
265 ff. ; of the Emperors, 275 ff. 

Foreign cults, numerous in Rome, 
437 ; why popular, 438 ; cult of 
Cybele or "Great Mother," 441 ; 
Isis -worship, 442; ceremonies 
at Temple of Isis, 443 ; Serapis 
worship, 445 ; Mithras worship, 
445; nobility of Mithras cult, 
446 ; Taurobolium, ceremony, 
448-449 ; Christianity, pagan 
view of, 449 ff. 

Fortresses, frontier, 330, 

Forum, morning visit to, 111 ; of 
Julius, 276; of Augustus, 277; 
of Nerva, 278; of Trajan, 278; 
(see Old Forum and Fora) . 

Forum Romanum, 265 ff . ; (see Old 

Fountains, public, 20, 

Free dm en, how created, 140; 
status of, 140, 141; humble 
types of, 141 ; wealthy, 142 ; 
importance of, 143. 

Frescos, in a Roman house, 50, 51. 

" Friends " of Emperor, 295. 

Frigidarium, 365. 

Fruits, 104, 105. 

Fullers, 89. 

Funeral monuments, 179, 182. 

Funerals, great interest in, 172; 
preliminaries to, 173 ; procession 
of " ancestors," 174 ; exhibits in 
procession, 175 ; orations at, 176 ; 
tombs, 177-180 ; funeral pyre, 
180, 181 ; for poorer classes, 182. 

Gain, passion for, 220. 

Galli, 441. 

Gambling, mania for, 375. 

Games, children's, 204 ; played on 

boards, 205, 206 ; out-door, 206. 
Games, public, passion for, 375; 

mania for gambling at, 375; 



vast scale of, 375-376; great 
expense of, 376; popularity of, 
377; seating at, 378; (see 
Theater, Circus, and Amphi- 

Gardens, public, around Rome, 372. 

Garlands, at dinners, 119. 

Garments, types of, 80 ft. ; toga, 
81 ; tunica, 84 ; capes, cloaks, and 
gala garments, 85; women's 
stola and palla, 86, 87 ; materials 
of, 88 ; use of silk, 89 ; changing 
styles of, 89. 

Gladiators, notice of display of, 29 ; 
popularity of, 392; (see Gladi- 
ator Contests). 

Gladiator contests, enormously 
popular, 389 ; at funerals, 390. 

Gladiator schools, 390 ; inmates 
usually criminals, 391 ; severe 
training in, 392 ; typical arrange- 
ment of, 393 ; Flavian Amphi- 
theater, 394-395 ; its interior ar- 
rangements, 395-396; procession 
before contests, 397; criminals 
thrown to beasts, 398; fights 
with wild beasts, 399; interval 
in sports, 400; distribution of 
lottery tickets at, 400 ; beginning 
of regular, 401 ; chariot warfare, 
402 ; cavalry combats, 403 ; 
signals for ruthlessness and 
signals for mercy, 403 ; " Net- 
ters " and " Thracians," 404- 
405 ; reward of victors, 405-406. 

Glass, used in windows, 49. 

Gluttony, 100-102. 

Golden Milestone, 269, 270. 

Gourmand! zing, delight in, 100. 

Government of Rome, 299 ff. ; 
city prsefect, 300 ; curators and 
commissioners, 301 ; water sup- 
ply of, 301-302 ; great aqueducts, 
303 ; police and fire department, 

Grain, trade in, 242 ; doles of, 243 ; 
distribution of, 244. 

Grammarians' schools, 199. 

" Great Mother," 441. 

Greek language, constantly used in 
Rome, 22, 23,. 

Guests at dinner, proper number 
nine, 113; arrangement on 
couches, 115. 

Guilds, 249 ; very ancient ones, 
250 ; importance of, 251 ; festi- 
vals of, 252. 

Hadrian, prosperity of his reign, 1, 
468 ; tomb of, 370 ; his return to 
Italy, 469 ; his procession enter- 
ing Rome, 470 ; how saluted, 472 ; 
presides over fetes, 472-473. 

Hairdressing, women's, 93; orna- 
ments on hair, 93. 

Heating of houses, 49. 

Hills, Seven, of Rome, 9. 

Hospitals, almost nonexistent, 168. 

Hotels, (see Inns). 

House fronts, on typical Roman 
streets, 18. 

Houses (see Insulce and Domus). 

Idlers, vast number of, 27. 

Imagines (death masks), 54. 

Impeachment trial, before Senate, 
343 ff. 

Industry, quarters for, 238; con- 
ditions of labor in, 238, 239; 
organization in guilds, 249 ff. 

Inns, usually sordid, 231 ; type of, 
232 r reckonings at, 233; fre- 
quenters of, 234 ; eating houses, 
235 ff. 

Insulae (tenement houses), 34 ff; 
typical insula, 35 ; flats in, 36 ; 
cheap attics in, 37 ; dangers of, 
37, 38. 

Isis, cult of, 442 ff. 

Janus, 413. , 

Jentaculum (breakfast), 110. 

Jesus, legal status of, 144. 

Jewels, 96 ff. 

Jews in Rome, 145. 

Kissing, habit of, in public, 27. 
Kitchens, 109. 

Lacerna, 85. 
Lacus, CurtiuB, 274. 
Lares and Penates, 414. 



Latrunculi (game), 205. 

Lawyers (see Advocates). 

Legacies, 170 ; hunting for, 171 ; 
public bequests, 172. 

Legal procedure, highly scientific, 
353; great tribunals for, 354; 
forms of verdicts, 355 ; impor- 
tance of advocates, 355; cheap 
pettifoggers, 356 ; character and 
slave witnesses, 357 ; use of 
written evidence, 357-358. 

Legate of the legion, 329. 

Legionaries, enlistment of, 314 ; or- 
ganization of, 315 ; training of, 
316 ; weapons of, 317-318 ; armor 
of, 318; rewards and punish- 
ment of, 319-320; retiring bo- 
nuses for, 329 ; pay and rations 
of, 320; training of, 321; non- 
military labors of, 322; petty 
officers of, 322-323 ; centurions of, 
323-324; primipilus of, 325; 
eagle of, 325. 

Legions, number of, 309 ; organi- 
zation of, 315 ff. ; location and 
names of, 326 ; commanders of, 
328 ; (see also Legionaries) . 

Letters, 207, 208. 

Libraries, size of, 217 ; private, 
218; public, 219; of Trajan, 280. 

Literary fame, passion for, 214 ff. 

Luncheon (prandium), 111. 

Magistrates, public honors paid to, 

Mansions (see Domus). 

Manumission, 139, 140. 

Marble trade, 241. 

Marriage, men often reluctant to 
marry, 61 ; usually arranged by 
girls' parents, 63 ; marriage 
treaties, 64; betrothal before, 
65; dowries, 66; dressing bride, 
66, 67; actual ceremonies of, 
67 ff. ; contract of, 68 ; wedding 
procession, 69; ceremonies at 
bridegroom's house, 70; often 
unhappy, 72 ; divorce, easy and 
frequent, 74; happy marriages, 

Masks, death (imagines), 54. 

Matrons, honors paid to, 71, 72; 

(see Women) . 

Meals and meal times, 110 ff. 
Meat and poultry, 105. 
Medicine (see Physicians). 
Mimes, 380. 

Mithras, worship of, 445^46. 
Morning, how spent by gentlemen, 


Morra, game of, 205. 
Mosaics, in Eornan mansion, 43. 

Names, intricacy of, 186; irregu- 
lar, 187; of slaves, 188; of 
women, 188 ; confusion of, 189. 

Nero, colossal statue of, 262. 

Notices, public, 29. 

Old Forum, 265 ff. ; noble traditions 
of, 266; impression created by, 
267; crowds in, 268, 269; area 
of, 268, 269 ; western end of, 
269 ; Bostra, 269 ; Golden Mile- 
stone, 269, 270; Tullianum, 270, 
271; Basilica JEmilia, 271; 
Temple of Janus, 271 ; Senate 
House, 272 ; Basilica Julia, 272 ; 
Lacus Curtius, 274. 

Olive oil, 107. 

Omens, belief in, 419-420. 

Oratory, passion for, 200 ; training 
in, 201 ff. ; in Senate, 343 ff. 

Ostia, trade through, 239 ; shipping 
at, 247 ; naval shipping at, 248 ; 
harbor town at, 249. 

Paenula, 85. 

Palace, imperial, 288 ff . ; magnifi- 
cent aspect of, 289; famous 
buildings in, 290 ; triclinium and 
throne-room of Domitian, 291- 
292 ; enormous luxury of, 292 ; 
swarm of officials present in, 293. 

Palatine, view from, 260; history 
of, 286; fine residences upon, 
287; Augustus settles upon, 
287-288 ; commanding view from, 
288 ; imperial palace upon, 288 ff . 

Palla, 88. 

Pantheon, 280-282. 

Pantomimes, 381 ; high art in, 332. 



Papyrus, 209, 210. 

Parasites, swarm of, in Rome, 27 ; 
at dinners, 112, 113; at baths, 

Park system around Rome, 280; 
toward Tiber, 369. 

Patria Potestas, 184. 

Paul, legal status of, 147. 

Pavements, in Roman streets, 18. 

Pax Romana, blessings of, 1. 

Pearls, 97. 

Perfun*es, 98; at dinners, 119. 

Peristylium, 44. 

Pet animals, 58 ; of children, 190. 

Philosophy, study of, 204. 

Physicians, no training required, 
160 ; superior class of, 161 ; fash- 
ionable doctors, 161, 162; in- 
struments and books of, 163 ; 
famous remedies of, 164 ; absurd 
medicines, 164; theriac, 165; 
fear of poisons, 165, 166; disci- 
ples of, 166 ; quack doctors, 167. 

Placards, public, 28, 29. 

Plebeians, the " mob," 145. 

Pliny the Younger' s Tuscan villa, 
459 ; charming location of, 460 ; 
view from, 461 ; terraces and 
porticoes of, 462 ; bed-chambers 
of, 463-464 ; gardens of, 465. 

Poetry, passion for, 216, 

Police department, 304-305. 

Pontiffs, 417. 

Population of Rome, 3, 4. 

Porticoes, along Campus Martius, 

Portrait busts, trade in, 246. 

Prafect, of city of Rome, 300 ; of 
the police (mgiles), 306; of the 
camps, 328. 

Praetorian guard, 309-311 ; prsefect 
of, 311; camp of, 311-312; or- 
ganization of, 313. 

Praetorian prefect, 311. 

Prayer, formal, at sacrifice, 428. 

Priests, duties of, 417; (see Fla- 

Primipilus, 325. 

Processions, attending great nobles, 

Provincial*, status of, 143. 

Public games, 375 ff. 
Publishers of books, 213, 214. 
Punishments, of slaves, 136; of 
soldiers, 320. 

Regia, 265. 

Regions of Rome, 15. 

Religion, signs of, everywhere, 407 ; 
upper classes sceptical, 407-408 ; 
Stoicism popular, 408; revival 
of, under Empire, 409 ; many 
foreign cults, 410 ; plebeians very 
superstitious, 411 ; based on old 
Italian agriculture, 412 ; native 
Italian gods, 413; Lares and 
Penates, 414 ; personified virtues 
as gods, 415 ; legalistic character 
of, 416 ; priests not sacrosanct, 
417 ; Pontifices, 417-418 ; Augurs, 
418; Flamens, 420; Salii, 421 ; 
Fetiales, 422; Arval Brethren, 
423 ; rustic, 424 ; soothsayers 
and astrologers, 424-425 ; sacri- 
fices, private, 425 ; ceremony at 
temple, 426; slaughtering the 
victim, 427 ; formal prayer, 428 ; 
Vestal Virgins, 429 ff. ; (see 
Foreign Cults). 

Restaurants (see Ea ting-Houses). 

Rhetoricians, 201 ; schools of, 
202 ff. 

Rings, 96. 

Robbers, game of, 205. 

Roman Empire very prosperous 
under Hadrian, 1 . 

Rome, beautified by Augustus and 
later Emperors, 3 ; reaches archi- 
tectural perfection about 135 
A.D., 3 ; population of, 3, 4 ; 
crowded condition of, 4 ; country 
around, 5; view from Campus 
Martius, 7; Seven Hills of, 9; 
regions and social quarters of, 15 ; 
typical street in, 16 ; discomforts 
of life in, 33 ; vast alien popula- 
tion in, 122 ; divisions of society 
in, 123 ff. ; great Jewish colony 
in, 145 ; plebeians in, 145, 146 ; 
life in, extravagant and expen- 
sive, 221 ; a city of investors and 
buyers of luxuries, 222; great 



shopping quarters in, 223 ; in- 
dustrial quarters in, 210 ff. ; city 
government of, 299 ff. 
Rostra, 269. 

Sacrifices, private description of, 
425 ff. 

Salii, 421. 

Salutations, form of, in public, 26. 

Sandals, 95. 

Saturnalia, 437. 

Schools (see Educators). 

Scribblings, upon every wall, 30, 

Sculptures, trade in, 246; often 
colored, 259. 

Seat of honor, at festivals, 378. 

Secretaries, 209. 

Senate, outward glory of, 334 ; 
actual weakness of, 335 ; actual 
authority of, 336 ; organization 
and procedure of, 337-338 ; Curia 
(Senate House) for, 338; ar- 
rangement of seats, 339 ; pre- 
cedence in, 339-340 ; opening of 
session, 340; auspices in, 340-341 ; 
routine business in, 341 ; taking 
of vote, 342 ; impeachment be- 
fore, 342-343 ; use of water clocks, 
344 ; oratory in, 344 ; advocates 
before, 345; shouts and invec- 
tives during debates, 347 ; taking 
the opinion of, 348 ff. ; speeches 
from floor of, 349 ; uproar in, 
350 ; formal division in, 351 ; de- 
cree of banishment, 352 ; end of 
session, 352. 

Senate House, 272. 

Senatorial order, 156; includes 
relatives of senators, 158. 

Senators, social glories of, 157 ; 
form a high aristocracy, 158; 
insignia and titles of, 158 ; great 
importance of, 159. 

Serapis, worship of, 445. 

" Seven Hills " of Rome, 9. 

Shipping, merchant, 247, 248; 
naval, 248. 

Shoes, 95. 

Shop fronts, 18. 

Shops, vast number of, 18 ; shop- 

ping districts in Rome, 223, 224 ; 
arrangement of shops, 224; of 
barbers, 225 ; superior retail 
stores, 226. 

Shrines, upon streets, 20. 
Siege warfare, 331. 
Siesta, custom of, 112. 
Silk, use of , 89. 

Slaves, notice to, 42 ; vast num- 
bers of, 124; power of master 
over, 125 ; city slaves and coun- 
try slaves, 125-126 ; purchase of, 
126, 127; auction of, 128; sale 
of superior, 129 ; size of house- 
hold of, 129, 130 ; workmen as, 
130 ; duties of, 131 ; organization 
of, 131 ; discipline of, 132 ; fre- 
quently idle, 133 ; degradation 
of slave system, 133 ; evil results 
on masters, 134 ; punishment of, 
135; branding of, 136; pursuit 
of runaways, 137; torture of, 
138 ; manumission of, 139. 
Society, divisions of, 123, 124. 
Soldiers (see Legionaries) . 
Soothsayers, 424. 
Statues, vast multiplication of, 51 ; 

portrait busts, 52, 53. 
Status, in Roman society, 123. 
Stoicism, popularity of, 408. 
Stola, 87. 

Streets, typical in Rome, 16 ; very 
narrow, 17; paving of, 17, 18; 
shops upon, 18 ; shrines and 
fountains upon, 20, 21 ; crowds 
in, 21 ; noise and turmoil of, 
23 ; dark and dangerous at night, 
32; extremely noisy towards 
dawn, 33. 
Suicide, not condemned, 168. 

Tables, 56 ; costly, of citrus wood, 

Tablets, writing, 207. 

Tactics, in battle, 330. 

Taurobolium, 447. 

Taverns (see Inns). 

Temple, of the Divine Julius, 265 ; 
of Janus, 271 ; of Mars Ultor, 
277; of Peace, 276; of Venus and 
Rome, 261, 262 ; of Vesta, 265. 



Tenement blocks (wswZce), 34 ff. 

Tepidarium, 365. 

Theater, not extremely popular, 
378 ; stage in, 379 ; spectacles 
in, 380; mimes, 380; panto- 
mimes, 381 ; high art in latter, 

Theaters upon Campus Mar this, 

Thermopolia, 236. 

Tiber, and valley of, 6; barges 
upon, 240 ; trip down to Ostia, 
247 ; shipping upon, 248. 

Time, measured by water clocks, 344. 

Titus, arch of, 262. 

Toga, 81-84. 

Toilets, very elaborate, 94. 

Tombs, 177-180 ; of Hadrian, 370 ; 
of Augustus, 372. 

Toys, 190. 

Trade, through Ostia and Cam- 
pania, 239 ; Emporium and 
wharves, 240; upon Tiber, 240, 
241 ; in marble and grain, 241, 
242; in sculptures and portrait 
statues, 246. 

Trajan, forum and column of, 278- 
280 ; baths of, 361 ff . 

Travel, modes of, 454-456. 

Traveler's escorts, 25, 26. 

Triclinium (dining room), 45, 46. 

Trignon (ball game), 206. 

Triumph, ceremonies of a, 470. 

Tullianum, 270, 271. 

Tunica, 84. 

Turia, story of, 78. 

Vegetables, 104. 

Veterans, care and rewards of, 

Vesta, Temple of, as safe deposit, 


Vestal Virgins, 429 ff. ; origin 
sancitity, 430 ; temple and 
dence of, 431 ; how chosen, 
duties of, 433 ; senior ve 
(Maxima) , 433 ; punishment 
434 ; great honors of, 435. 

Via Sacra, 261, 263 ff. 

Victory, statue of, in Senate, 34 

Vigiles, city police, 28; desc 
tion of, 304 ff. 

Villas, several owned by one s< 
tor, 39 ; greatly enjoyed, 4 
comfortable travel to, 454-4 
multiplication of, 456 ; by 
sea shore, 457 ; in the mounts 
457-458 ; near Rome, 458 ; g] 
estates in the hills, 459 ; Plii 
Tuscan villa, 459 ff. 

Vitellius, imperial glutton, 102. 

Wall scribblings, 30. 

War, ceremony of declaring, 42J 

Water clocks, 57 ; in Senate, 34 

Water supply of Rome, 301 ff, 

Wealth, vast premium upon 
Rome, 220, 221. 

Weapons, of legionaries, 317, 31 

Wills, 169. 

Windows of houses, 49. 

Wines, 107, 108, 109. 

Writing tablets, 207. 

Women, honorable status of, ' 
rights and privileges when m 
ried, 61, 71, 72 ; have control 
property, 62; selection of h 
bands for girls, 63; marrii 
treaties, 64; betrothal cerer 
nies, 65 ; dowries of, 66 ; m 
riage of, 66 ff. ; frivolous tj 
of, 72, 73; nobler types of, 
famous and devoted wives, 
77 ; case of Turia, 78, 79.